Archive For: Patient News

J&J Vaccine Update: CDC and FDA Recommend Use of J&J’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Resume

On April 23rd, the pause on using J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. was lifted. Visit the CDC website to see the CDC/FDA official statement. For more information, download a copy of the CDC recommendations.

Please continue to check the CDC website for the latest vaccine information.

The post J&J Vaccine Update: CDC and FDA Recommend Use of J&J’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Resume appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

J&J Vaccine Update: CDC and FDA Recommend Use of J&J’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Resume

On April 23rd, the pause on using J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. was lifted. Click here to see the CDC/FDA official statement. For more information, click here to view or download a PDF of the CDC recommendations.

Please continue to check the CDC website for the latest vaccine information.

The post J&J Vaccine Update: CDC and FDA Recommend Use of J&J’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Resume appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Experts Weigh In With Reassuring Outlook

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is in full swing around the country but many questions remain. We reveal the latest answers (as of February 2021) from nationally recognized vaccine experts Dr. Paul Sax, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Clinical Director of Infectious Disease, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Michael Kinch, PhD, Director of Washington University’s Center for Drug Discovery.

How will the new variants impact the effectiveness of the vaccines?

Sax: Data is emerging daily. The UK variant has a higher level of contagiousness but is mediated just as well with the vaccine; other variants’ stories are still unfolding. Vaccine manufacturers are retooling the antigens to make them effective against a broader group of viruses. Boosters may be provided in the future.

Kinch: The variants show us that the coronavirus is very efficient at mutation, and we’ll likely need to adapt our vaccines every two to five years to provide the right protection.

Is it safe to get vaccinated at large outdoor stadiums?

Sax: Yes, absolutely. People are not being crowded into poorly ventilated indoor spaces at these events.

Which vaccine is best?

Sax: The one that’s offered to you! Don’t wait for a specific vaccine because in the interim, you’re at higher risk for getting a more severe case of COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna, both mRNA vaccines, are 95% effective after two doses. The J&J vaccine works differently, using a virus that doesn’t reproduce in humans and stimulating an immune response after just one dose. While J&J’s 70-80% rate may not be as high as the others, it’s very effective in preventing severe disease, so you can feel confident about getting it. We are also likely to have a fourth vaccine, Novavax, available soon.

Kinch: We may not have a definitive answer to this question until later this year. But these are incredible vaccine breakthroughs, with exceptionally high rates of effectiveness.

Is delaying the second dose problematic?

Sax: Getting it too early is actually more concerning. The first dose primes the immune system and the second dose gives it a huge boost. Waiting six weeks won’t matter.

Are side effects worse after the second dose?

Sax: Yes, there are more side effects reported but this indicates your body is responding to the vaccine. I experienced headache, fatigue and trouble concentrating immediately afterwards, and then felt totally fine the next day. That’s a trade-off I’d take anytime versus the potentially life-threatening consequences of COVID-19.

What if I don’t experience side effects?

Sax: No need for concern, as the vaccines were shown to be highly effective in trials with thousands of people, including a significant number over age 55. However, older, frailer people weren’t tested, and it’s possible they may not respond as well to the vaccine.

Can I take pain relievers before or after getting the vaccine?

Sax: Don’t take any beforehand as it can blunt the immune response; afterwards, it’s fine.

What is still unknown about COVID-19 and vaccines?

Sax: We don’t know the risk of immunized people transmitting COVID-19, but we’re seeing promising evidence from Israel that vaccinated individuals carry lower amounts of virus. This will significantly reduce but not completely eliminate transmission. Also unknown is whether natural or vaccine-induced immunity is better.

Kinch: The long-term durability of the vaccine’s immune protection isn’t known, but we’ll discover that over time. Preliminary data seems to indicate that recovery from minor cases of coronavirus provides three to nine months of protection.

Is it important to vaccinate younger people?

Sax: Elementary age kids only get mildly sick from COVID-19 and they’re not very contagious, but teenagers are at higher risk for severe disease and are more contagious. The most important group to vaccinate is people in their 20s, who’ve been primary spreaders of the virus.

Should immunosuppressed patients get the vaccine?

Kinch: Yes, and in fact, patients with autoimmune conditions will be prioritized as a higher-risk group. One of the most promising and least discussed aspects of the Moderna and Pfizer trials is that while many patients became infected with the virus, not one was hospitalized, needed intubation or died. This is particularly significant for immunosuppressed patients, because if infection can’t be prevented altogether, the vaccine will lessen disease severity and result in much better outcomes.

Should pregnant women get the vaccine?

Sax: Pregnancy is a severe risk factor for COVID. While theoretically the vaccine is safe, we don’t have all the data yet. I’d recommend it, but also understand if a woman chooses to wait.

What needs to happen to resume normal life?

Sax: We have to be laser focused on mobilizing vaccinations nationally and not expect the states to just figure it out. I feel optimistic that enough vaccine will be available by summer, possibly even by late spring, for everyone to be immunized.

(sidebar)After vaccination, is it safe* to…

  • Visit family and friends? Wearing masks and social distancing is still necessary in large, public settings, but we can relax a bit in small group settings. Although the risk of interacting without masks is not zero, it is low, so go ahead and hug your grandchildren! And if you’re dining indoors with family, simply open the windows for good ventilation.
  • Exercise? Yes, and no need to wear a mask if outdoors and you’re a decent distance away from people. At indoor gyms, wear a mask, keep your distance and avoid areas that are not well-ventilated.
  • Eat at restaurants? Yes, if outdoors; no if indoors.
  • Travel by air? Yes, with precautions. Surprisingly few transmission events haveoccurred aboard planes; however, the boarding process and airport experience are not well controlled, so stay masked and distanced.

Additional post-vaccination guidelines are available from the CDC.*Dr. Paul Sax, Guest Speaker, Lown Cardiology Group Health & Wellness Webinar (2.16.2021)

The post COVID-19 Vaccine Update appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Experts Weigh In With Reassuring Outlook

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is in full swing around the country but many questions remain. We reveal the latest answers (as of February 2021) from nationally recognized vaccine experts Dr. Paul Sax, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Clinical Director of Infectious Disease, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Michael Kinch, PhD, Director of Washington University’s Center for Drug Discovery.

How will the new variants impact the effectiveness of the vaccines?

Sax: Data is emerging daily. The UK variant has a higher level of contagiousness but is mediated just as well with the vaccine; other variants’ stories are still unfolding. Vaccine manufacturers are retooling the antigens to make them effective against a broader group of viruses. Boosters may be provided in the future.

Kinch: The variants show us that the coronavirus is very efficient at mutation, and we’ll likely need to adapt our vaccines every two to five years to provide the right protection.

Is it safe to get vaccinated at large outdoor stadiums?

Sax: Yes, absolutely. People are not being crowded into poorly ventilated indoor spaces at these events.

Which vaccine is best?

Sax: The one that’s offered to you! Don’t wait for a specific vaccine because in the interim, you’re at higher risk for getting a more severe case of COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna, both mRNA vaccines, are 95% effective after two doses. The J&J vaccine works differently, using a virus that doesn’t reproduce in humans and stimulating an immune response after just one dose. While J&J’s 70-80% rate may not be as high as the others, it’s very effective in preventing severe disease, so you can feel confident about getting it. We are also likely to have a fourth vaccine, Novavax, available soon.

Kinch: We may not have a definitive answer to this question until later this year. But these are incredible vaccine breakthroughs, with exceptionally high rates of effectiveness.

Is delaying the second dose problematic?

Sax: Getting it too early is actually more concerning. The first dose primes the immune system and the second dose gives it a huge boost. Waiting six weeks won’t matter.

Are side effects worse after the second dose?

Sax: Yes, there are more side effects reported but this indicates your body is responding to the vaccine. I experienced headache, fatigue and trouble concentrating immediately afterwards, and then felt totally fine the next day. That’s a trade-off I’d take anytime versus the potentially life-threatening consequences of COVID-19.

What if I don’t experience side effects?

Sax: No need for concern, as the vaccines were shown to be highly effective in trials with thousands of people, including a significant number over age 55. However, older, frailer people weren’t tested, and it’s possible they may not respond as well to the vaccine.

Can I take pain relievers before or after getting the vaccine?

Sax: Don’t take any beforehand as it can blunt the immune response; afterwards, it’s fine.

What is still unknown about COVID-19 and vaccines?

Sax: We don’t know the risk of immunized people transmitting COVID-19, but we’re seeing promising evidence from Israel that vaccinated individuals carry lower amounts of virus. This will significantly reduce but not completely eliminate transmission. Also unknown is whether natural or vaccine-induced immunity is better.

Kinch: The long-term durability of the vaccine’s immune protection isn’t known, but we’ll discover that over time. Preliminary data seems to indicate that recovery from minor cases of coronavirus provides three to nine months of protection.

Is it important to vaccinate younger people?

Sax: Elementary age kids only get mildly sick from COVID-19 and they’re not very contagious, but teenagers are at higher risk for severe disease and are more contagious. The most important group to vaccinate is people in their 20s, who’ve been primary spreaders of the virus.

Should immunosuppressed patients get the vaccine?

Kinch: Yes, and in fact, patients with autoimmune conditions will be prioritized as a higher-risk group. One of the most promising and least discussed aspects of the Moderna and Pfizer trials is that while many patients became infected with the virus, not one was hospitalized, needed intubation or died. This is particularly significant for immunosuppressed patients, because if infection can’t be prevented altogether, the vaccine will lessen disease severity and result in much better outcomes.

Should pregnant women get the vaccine?

Sax: Pregnancy is a severe risk factor for COVID. While theoretically the vaccine is safe, we don’t have all the data yet. I’d recommend it, but also understand if a woman chooses to wait.

What needs to happen to resume normal life?

Sax: We have to be laser focused on mobilizing vaccinations nationally and not expect the states to just figure it out. I feel optimistic that enough vaccine will be available by summer, possibly even by late spring, for everyone to be immunized.

(sidebar)After vaccination, is it safe* to…

  • Visit family and friends? Wearing masks and social distancing is still necessary in large, public settings, but we can relax a bit in small group settings. Although the risk of interacting without masks is not zero, it is low, so go ahead and hug your grandchildren! And if you’re dining indoors with family, simply open the windows for good ventilation.
  • Exercise? Yes, and no need to wear a mask if outdoors and you’re a decent distance away from people. At indoor gyms, wear a mask, keep your distance and avoid areas that are not well-ventilated.
  • Eat at restaurants? Yes, if outdoors; no if indoors.
  • Travel by air? Yes, with precautions. Surprisingly few transmission events haveoccurred aboard planes; however, the boarding process and airport experience are not well controlled, so stay masked and distanced.

Additional post-vaccination guidelines are available from the CDC.*Dr. Paul Sax, Guest Speaker, Lown Cardiology Group Health & Wellness Webinar (2.16.2021)

The post COVID-19 Vaccine Update appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

A Guide to the Power Players in Pain Relief

Which Pain Relievers Work Best?

When you reach for a pain reliever, what are you most likely to find in your medicine cabinet? And does it matter? While aspirin, Tylenol and Aleve may appear similar and aim for the same results, their effects can vary. Below is a quick guide to today’s most recognizable over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief products.

The effectiveness of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in alleviating pain and reducing inflammation is well documented. They work by blocking the effects of specific enzymes to decrease the number of prostaglandins made in the body, which cause tissue to swell and increase the pain you experience. While widely used, it’s important to be aware of the limitations of these medications, most notably that all NSAIDs except aspirin carry an FDA warning for increased risk of heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure when used at high doses for long periods of time. They can also cause stomach upset, heartburn, and ulcers which may bleed; because they are blood thinners, should not be taken with medications such as Coumadin. Additionally, NSAIDs provide rapid pain relief for most, but may require a two-to-three week regimen to realize anti-inflammatory effects.

NSAIDs include:

Acetylsalicylic acid/aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin)
Aspirin, the first OTC pain reliever to be mass produced in the early 1900s, is still the most commonly used for headaches, minor aches and pains and inflammation. Unlike other NSAIDs, it is not associated with a higher risk of heart attack.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Ibuprofen is commonly used to treat pain and bring down fever, and alleviates symptoms of migraine, menstrual cramps, toothache, and inflammation with better results than aspirin. Some studies point to a lower risk of ibuprofen causing ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding than other NSAIDs.

Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Midol)
This NSAID is most effective for alleviating backaches, arthritis, sprains and other types of inflammatory-based pain. In comparable doses, naproxen has a longer-lasting effect than other pain relievers, lasting 8 to 12 hours versus 4 to 8.

The non-NSAID solution:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Anacin)
Tylenol, the most well-known brand of acetaminophen, is used to treat pain and reduce fever and is safe for both heart and gut. However, this non-NSAID can’t be used to relieve inflammation-related conditions. Also different from NSAIDs, acetaminophen is broken down and removed by the liver, and taking too much in a 24-hour period can cause liver damage. Be sure to read product labels carefully because acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin are often combined in products to treat cough, flu or sinus infection.

Which pain reliever should you take? There are no easy answers because individual responses to the same type and dose of medication can be considerably different. It’s sometimes necessary to try one drug and then another to determine optimal treatment; or consider prescription medications. Please call our office to discuss your best options.

New Perspectives on Aspirin

The long-accepted use of a daily low-dose aspirin to treat or prevent heart attacks or strokes was re-examined in light of recent studies showing the therapy’s heightened risk of gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke outweighed its benefits for people who are healthy with no history of cardiovascular disease. Some experts now recommend daily aspirin therapy only for those who’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, a coronary artery stent or coronary bypass surgery, or are at a higher risk for coronary artery disease.

Always using pain relievers to bring down a fever has been challenged, somewhat controversially, by researchers including Dr. Paul Offit, vaccinologist at the University of Philadelphia and author of Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far. “Fever is a symptom that occurs for a reason,” he says. “The immune system actually works better at a high temperature, so treating a fever with aspirin can prolong or worsen illness.”

The post A Guide to the Power Players in Pain Relief appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

A Guide to the Power Players in Pain Relief

Which Pain Relievers Work Best?

When you reach for a pain reliever, what are you most likely to find in your medicine cabinet? And does it matter? While aspirin, Tylenol and Aleve may appear similar and aim for the same results, their effects can vary. Below is a quick guide to today’s most recognizable over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief products.

The effectiveness of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in alleviating pain and reducing inflammation is well documented. They work by blocking the effects of specific enzymes to decrease the number of prostaglandins made in the body, which cause tissue to swell and increase the pain you experience. While widely used, it’s important to be aware of the limitations of these medications, most notably that all NSAIDs except aspirin carry an FDA warning for increased risk of heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure when used at high doses for long periods of time. They can also cause stomach upset, heartburn, and ulcers which may bleed; because they are blood thinners, should not be taken with medications such as Coumadin. Additionally, NSAIDs provide rapid pain relief for most, but may require a two-to-three week regimen to realize anti-inflammatory effects.

NSAIDs include:

Acetylsalicylic acid/aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin)
Aspirin, the first OTC pain reliever to be mass produced in the early 1900s, is still the most commonly used for headaches, minor aches and pains and inflammation. Unlike other NSAIDs, it is not associated with a higher risk of heart attack.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Ibuprofen is commonly used to treat pain and bring down fever, and alleviates symptoms of migraine, menstrual cramps, toothache, and inflammation with better results than aspirin. Some studies point to a lower risk of ibuprofen causing ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding than other NSAIDs.

Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Midol)
This NSAID is most effective for alleviating backaches, arthritis, sprains and other types of inflammatory-based pain. In comparable doses, naproxen has a longer-lasting effect than other pain relievers, lasting 8 to 12 hours versus 4 to 8.

The non-NSAID solution:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Anacin)
Tylenol, the most well-known brand of acetaminophen, is used to treat pain and reduce fever and is safe for both heart and gut. However, this non-NSAID can’t be used to relieve inflammation-related conditions. Also different from NSAIDs, acetaminophen is broken down and removed by the liver, and taking too much in a 24-hour period can cause liver damage. Be sure to read product labels carefully because acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin are often combined in products to treat cough, flu or sinus infection.

Which pain reliever should you take? There are no easy answers because individual responses to the same type and dose of medication can be considerably different. It’s sometimes necessary to try one drug and then another to determine optimal treatment; or consider prescription medications. Please call our office to discuss your best options.

New Perspectives on Aspirin

The long-accepted use of a daily low-dose aspirin to treat or prevent heart attacks or strokes was re-examined in light of recent studies showing the therapy’s heightened risk of gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke outweighed its benefits for people who are healthy with no history of cardiovascular disease. Some experts now recommend daily aspirin therapy only for those who’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, a coronary artery stent or coronary bypass surgery, or are at a higher risk for coronary artery disease.

Always using pain relievers to bring down a fever has been challenged, somewhat controversially, by researchers including Dr. Paul Offit, vaccinologist at the University of Philadelphia and author of Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far. “Fever is a symptom that occurs for a reason,” he says. “The immune system actually works better at a high temperature, so treating a fever with aspirin can prolong or worsen illness.”

The post A Guide to the Power Players in Pain Relief appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Cooking without Sodium or Sugar

Assortments of spices, white pepper, chili flakes, lemongrass, coriander and cumin seeds in jars on grey stone background. Copy space

Executive Chef Stan Hodes Shares Secrets of the Spice Rack

The benefits of reducing sodium and sugar in the diet are compelling, backed by well- documented studies. The flip side is an equally powerful human craving for enhanced flavor, compounded by years of exposure to products boosted with salt and sugar and the ongoing quest for umami (the fifth taste, defined by experts as the essence of deliciousness).

“Salt and sugar were once basic to preserving foods, and we’re predisposed to enjoy the sweet and the salty, the yin and the yang, such as salted caramel,” explains executive chef Stan Hodes, who has spent three decades bringing the “wow” factor to hospital and senior living meals with strict nutritional requirements. In this two-part series, he shares how to coax out natural flavors with no shakers of salt or spoonsful of sugar.

Hodes encourages a holistic approach to meeting recommended limits for calories, sodium, sugar and fat.

“All too frequently, reducing sodium in a particular product or recipe can mean amping up the sugar instead, so it’s best to consider the overall nutritional value rather than a single component,” he explains. “Then, be inspired by natural substitutes from other cultures that don’t use salt to create their remarkable flavor profiles with real punch from the very first bite, such as Cajun spice mixes or Indian garam masala (a coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg blend).”

Hodes’ spicy recommendations

Bagel seasoning. Low-sodium versions of this blend of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dehydrated onions and other spices provide a welcome bit of crunch and texture as well as flavor.

Black pepper, cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Eliminate the need for salt with a light dusting of these pungent peppers.

Cinnamon. A peppery and semi-sweet spice ideal for tomato sauces, curries and marinades. Hodes uses a potent mix of cinnamon and coffee as the closely held keys to flavor in his popular chili.

Citrus juices. Drizzle over cooked vegetables, tenderize meats and fish, and transform vinaigrettes with an acidic zing from the juice of a lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or yuzu (a small Japanese citrus fruit). Additionally, try grating (zesting) the peel of a lemon and mix it into soups, marinades and beverages to bring out the flavors.

Coffee. A rich source of flavor sometimes found in Mexican moles, brewed coffee can be reduced by half in a saucepan and used in sauces, stews and gravies, or try a sprinkle of instant coffee instead.

Ginger. Chop and mix fresh ginger root into stir-fries, sauces, soups and beverages; this pungent and sweet spice is also known for its possible anti-inflammatory effects.

Infused oils. Place stalks of fresh garlic, rosemary and oregano, each in a separate bottle of olive oil, for freshly flavored dressings.

Mushrooms and beets. These naturally occurring sources of umami can easily be added to recipes for a burst of flavor: Dehydrate mushrooms by roasting until crisp and store them in a jar for future use; oven-roast beets, slice, and add to salads, soups or root vegetable platters.

Nutritional yeast. This deactivated yeast, available as flakes or powder, provides a cheesy, salty flavor without using either. Ideal on roasted vegetables or baked taco chips; when blended with carrots, potatoes, lemon juice, garlic and onion powder, “It tastes exactly like Velveeta cheese,” promises Hodes. Pour it over cooked elbow noodles for a lower-sodium, non-dairy mac ’n’ cheese.

Olives. Known for their salty taste and high sodium content, olives can be used more healthily if you soak the sodium out. Cut them in half, immerse overnight in a bowl of tap water and drain the next day.

Paprika. Warm up any recipe with fresh or smoked varieties of this vibrant red spice made from a variety of red peppers.

Sage. Strongly aromatic, with an earthy taste of citrus and pine, this herb can be used fresh or dried to flavor sauces, roasted vegetables and bean dishes.
Salsa. Store-bought salsas can bring too much sodium into the mix, so make your own fruit salsa with finely diced melons and a dash of orange juice as a colorful, phytonutrient-rich topping for grilled fish, chicken or salads.

Vinegars. Another way to use the power of acidity is with rice wine vinegars for seasoning; the sweetly sharp tang of balsamic vinegar to wake up dressings, stews and marinades; and the strong kick of apple cider vinegar.

Wines. Cook red or white wine until reduced by half, let it thicken and cool, and store in a squeeze bottle to use as a glaze for proteins.

Stan Hodes served as Executive Chef and Manager of Dining Services Operations at Baptist Hospital of Miami for 27 years, and worked as chef for the Marriott Hotels, Cancun’s Casa Magna Resort, and Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines. He was recognized by HealthLeaders magazine as one of the top 20 Most Innovative Foodservice Executives in America.

The post Cooking without Sodium or Sugar appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.

Cooking without Sodium or Sugar

Assortments of spices, white pepper, chili flakes, lemongrass, coriander and cumin seeds in jars on grey stone background. Copy space

Executive Chef Stan Hodes Shares Secrets of the Spice Rack

The benefits of reducing sodium and sugar in the diet are compelling, backed by well- documented studies. The flip side is an equally powerful human craving for enhanced flavor, compounded by years of exposure to products boosted with salt and sugar and the ongoing quest for umami (the fifth taste, defined by experts as the essence of deliciousness).

“Salt and sugar were once basic to preserving foods, and we’re predisposed to enjoy the sweet and the salty, the yin and the yang, such as salted caramel,” explains executive chef Stan Hodes, who has spent three decades bringing the “wow” factor to hospital and senior living meals with strict nutritional requirements. In this two-part series, he shares how to coax out natural flavors with no shakers of salt or spoonsful of sugar.

Hodes encourages a holistic approach to meeting recommended limits for calories, sodium, sugar and fat.

“All too frequently, reducing sodium in a particular product or recipe can mean amping up the sugar instead, so it’s best to consider the overall nutritional value rather than a single component,” he explains. “Then, be inspired by natural substitutes from other cultures that don’t use salt to create their remarkable flavor profiles with real punch from the very first bite, such as Cajun spice mixes or Indian garam masala (a coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg blend).”

Hodes’ spicy recommendations

Bagel seasoning. Low-sodium versions of this blend of poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dehydrated onions and other spices provide a welcome bit of crunch and texture as well as flavor.

Black pepper, cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Eliminate the need for salt with a light dusting of these pungent peppers.

Cinnamon. A peppery and semi-sweet spice ideal for tomato sauces, curries and marinades. Hodes uses a potent mix of cinnamon and coffee as the closely held keys to flavor in his popular chili.

Citrus juices. Drizzle over cooked vegetables, tenderize meats and fish, and transform vinaigrettes with an acidic zing from the juice of a lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or yuzu (a small Japanese citrus fruit). Additionally, try grating (zesting) the peel of a lemon and mix it into soups, marinades and beverages to bring out the flavors.

Coffee. A rich source of flavor sometimes found in Mexican moles, brewed coffee can be reduced by half in a saucepan and used in sauces, stews and gravies, or try a sprinkle of instant coffee instead.

Ginger. Chop and mix fresh ginger root into stir-fries, sauces, soups and beverages; this pungent and sweet spice is also known for its possible anti-inflammatory effects.

Infused oils. Place stalks of fresh garlic, rosemary and oregano, each in a separate bottle of olive oil, for freshly flavored dressings.

Mushrooms and beets. These naturally occurring sources of umami can easily be added to recipes for a burst of flavor: Dehydrate mushrooms by roasting until crisp and store them in a jar for future use; oven-roast beets, slice, and add to salads, soups or root vegetable platters.

Nutritional yeast. This deactivated yeast, available as flakes or powder, provides a cheesy, salty flavor without using either. Ideal on roasted vegetables or baked taco chips; when blended with carrots, potatoes, lemon juice, garlic and onion powder, “It tastes exactly like Velveeta cheese,” promises Hodes. Pour it over cooked elbow noodles for a lower-sodium, non-dairy mac ’n’ cheese.

Olives. Known for their salty taste and high sodium content, olives can be used more healthily if you soak the sodium out. Cut them in half, immerse overnight in a bowl of tap water and drain the next day.

Paprika. Warm up any recipe with fresh or smoked varieties of this vibrant red spice made from a variety of red peppers.

Sage. Strongly aromatic, with an earthy taste of citrus and pine, this herb can be used fresh or dried to flavor sauces, roasted vegetables and bean dishes.
Salsa. Store-bought salsas can bring too much sodium into the mix, so make your own fruit salsa with finely diced melons and a dash of orange juice as a colorful, phytonutrient-rich topping for grilled fish, chicken or salads.

Vinegars. Another way to use the power of acidity is with rice wine vinegars for seasoning; the sweetly sharp tang of balsamic vinegar to wake up dressings, stews and marinades; and the strong kick of apple cider vinegar.

Wines. Cook red or white wine until reduced by half, let it thicken and cool, and store in a squeeze bottle to use as a glaze for proteins.

Stan Hodes served as Executive Chef and Manager of Dining Services Operations at Baptist Hospital of Miami for 27 years, and worked as chef for the Marriott Hotels, Cancun’s Casa Magna Resort, and Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines. He was recognized by HealthLeaders magazine as one of the top 20 Most Innovative Foodservice Executives in America.

The post Cooking without Sodium or Sugar appeared first on Specialdocs Consultants.