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Cooking to Cope: Back to Basics at Home

Posted by Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO
Director of Clinical Nutrition
Holy Name Medical Center on May 15, 2020

Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO, Director of Clinical Nutrition Holy Name Medical Center

Soak those beans, cut those vegetables, make that stock, create that salad dressing. In this temporary world of homebodies you may now have the time to de-process your cooking essentials.

We have become so accustomed to buying prepared foods like soups and soup stocks, tomato and other sauces, herb and spice blends like Sazon or taco seasoning, canned beans, bottled dressings, and the list can go on. Some of those conveniences come with a price: sodium, MSG, gums, and other preservatives that are unnatural. Get back to the basics, and discover the breakdown and nutritious sources for these conveniences we generally take for granted.

At a loss for a certain ingredient? No worries, you can find a recipe for everything on the internet. When I needed a substitute for Sazon seasoning - popular in Spanish cuisine - to put in my rice and beans dish, I found a simple substitute using the following herbs and spices: coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, oregano, and onion powder. If you add chili powder, salt and pepper you also have taco seasoning.

A Healthier Salad Dressing

Salad dressing typically has too much sugar (many even have high fructose corn syrup), sodium, and fat. Try this simple recipe:

Orange Dijon dressing


  • Juice of one orange
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Shake all ingredients in a Mason jar, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Homemade Granola Minus the Sugar

Granola is delicious for breakfast, dessert, or even as a snack. But granola you buy in a supermarket is usually ultra-processed, often laden with added sugar, and more expensive than granola you can make at home.

You can easily make granola at home by downloading the following recipe for banana coconut granola. The recipe uses only whole ingredients and no added sugar. The sweetness is from a banana, and it's super healthy. Enjoy!

Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian specializing in oncology, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal health, and weight control.

If you have any questions, or would like to make an appointment with a registered dietitian for a telehealth nutrition counseling appointment with Holy Name’s outpatient nutrition center,
call 201-227-6040.