Healthy Cooking Thursday – Mustards that Make the Cut

By Chef Lisa
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I’m often asked by the ladies who visit our healthy weight loss spa what I have in my pantry at home. That’s a pretty multicultural spot, as I’m a fan of many different cuisines, but I try to keep to the basics without too many excessive specialty items. One place where I crave variety, however, is my mustards.

The world of mustard is a wonderful place, full of zing, sweetness, varying textures, and myriad twists. In general, mustard imparts a lot of flavor with very little (if any) fat, and each variety has its own personality. For this reason, I rarely have less than five mustards in my fridge.

Stone Ground Mustard tops the list. A robust and spicy variety with delightful pops of flavor, courtesy of intact mustard seeds (see photo), stone ground mustards are wonderful in marinades and served as a finishing sauce for equally robust flavored cuts of meat. I adore making mashed potatoes with Yukon gold taters, stone ground mustard, one percent milk, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs I’m in the mood for (rosemary or basil are the usual suspects). Notice I didn’t mention butter…

Closely behind stone ground is the classic workhorse, Dijon Mustard. A more refined but still zesty flavor, dijon is the mustard I most often grab as an ingredient. It knows its place, bringing a classic flavor to the table without being too overbearing. It is a key ingredient in our Broccoli Slaw, featured in our new Recipes For Living e-cookbook.

Then there’s good old Yellow Mustard. Nostalgia swirls whenever I reach for a squeeze bottle with bright yellow mustard, quickly bringing me back to fun family picnics. The color of this condiment is thanks to turmeric, which has been recognized as an anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, metabolism-quickening, even depression-fighting spice, so if you know any foodie snobs who refuse Old Yeller, you can use its status as a healing food as a debating tool. I will choose yellow mustard over dijon when I want a brighter color and brighter flavor, such as when I make barbeque or a honey-mustard glaze for poultry.

Speaking of, I usually have a Ginger-Maple Mustard on hand. Yes, I am absolutely capable of adding some ginger and sweetener to another mustard, but even the biggest fan of cooking sometimes doesn’t have the time or inclination to do so. As with any processed product, seek out flavored mustards that have the most pronounceable list of ingredients (in other words, avoid chemicals that aren’t really food). I especially love ginger-maple mustard on poultry, pork, pretzels, and in crab salad.

Last but most definitely not least is Chinese Hot Mustard. When I need to clear my sinuses or put a little spring in my step, I substitute this one in place of other mustards in recipes, usually lessening the amount used due to the heat. It bites hard and is not for the faint of heart; a little goes a very long way. I like it best as a topping for cheese on a cracker. It also makes meatless hot dogs a lot more flavorful and appealing.

It’s easy to let a mustard collection get out of control, especially with so many interesting varieties. There’s green peppercorn, creole, beer, horseradish garlic, raspberry, etc.  But try to keep your inventory realistic. At one point I had ten mustards in my fridge. That was a bit ridiculous, even for a foodie like yours truly!

So what mustard makes the cut for you?

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