My health tip of the day will be on sodium nitrates. Nitrates are used in curing, which is a broad category of techniques for preserving foods, mainly meat and fish, that involves the use of salt, sugar, or some form of dehydration. Now, I should share with you that I am a bit conflicted. I, personally, am not a fan of eating any cured meats and I have, for a while, been suggesting that if you must eat cured meats, then at least make it nitrate free. Hence, my conflict. It appears as if some research shows that cured meats without sodium nitrates might have a bacteria that could, in extreme cases, cause some form of botulism. But, there is also research that shows us that a high consumption of cured meats with sodium nitrates could lead to pancreatic cancer.
So, here is what I have concluded. I can’t say for certain which is worse. What I can say for certain, is that I, personally, will make every effort to not consume cured meats either way. In fact, we have gone so far as to change what is a traditional recipe, such as Cordon Bleu on our French menu, and have substituted roasted peppers instead of ham. I’m not telling you not to eat ham and turkey, but I am telling you to do your own research and come to your own conclusion.
In the mean time, here’s a great alternative. Grill a large amount of chicken breast on the grill. Place it in the refrigerator and use for lunch meat instead of ham and turkey. Below is one of our grilled chicken recipes in case you are interested in making it on a weekend and having a nifty lunch for you and your family at your disposal all week.
Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
- 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425˚.
- Combine all ingredients except for chicken and whisk well.
- Place chicken in Ziploc bag, add marinade and let stand for 10 minutes (this is a great recipe to make 24 hours in advance. Great marinade).
- Remove chicken from bag and place in shallow baking dish and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
This is a fantastic lunch meat that is hearty, healthy and tastes great! Enjoy!