- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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When you crave a savory taste, you want umami
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
If I asked you to match a food to each of the basic tastes — sweet, sour, bitter and salty — I'm guessing you'd answer with ease. What if I asked you to name the fifth taste? Could you? And could you list foods that provide it? No?
The answer is umami.
Umami is not as straightforward as its other taste counterparts. Some describe it as savory, meaty or rich. And in some cases, it's not the dominant taste but rather it makes other foods taste better.
So what's the answer to the second part of that question — what foods provide umami?
Just as the description is broad, so is the list of foods that provide this unique taste. Umami is found in protein-rich foods, such as duck and other poultry, aged beef, venison, eggs, aged cheese, fish and shellfish. Fish sauce is a classic umami ingredient, as are soy and Worcestershire sauces. Other foods that provide umami are tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and walnuts. By no means is this a complete list, but you get the idea.
What's so special about umami?
Because it has the ability to enhance flavors, it's a useful tool for the health-conscious cook. You can use it to boost flavor while reducing fat and salt in recipes. True, aged cheese and salty sauces aren't what you'd call health foods. But you don't need to use much to get the umami boost.
Grate just an ounce of aged cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, with a fine grater and you will create what looks to be a large volume (enough to share) and release the oils and the amazing flavor. Same with the sauces — a little goes a long way.
Other ingredients you can use to add umami to your dishes include:
- Dried seaweed (2 tablespoons = negligible sodium)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1 tablespoon = 76 mg sodium)
- Mushrooms such as dried shiitake (negligible amount of sodium)
- Sundried tomatoes (1 tablespoon = 21 mg sodium)
- Tomato paste (1 tablespoon = 124 mg sodium)
Take a moment to recognize the umami in your next meal. Experiment with umami ingredients. Please share your experience. Maybe you're a foodie and this is already in your arsenal. In that case, share your tips and maybe even a recipe or two.
Here's to slowing down to taste and enjoy our food,