In 32 years of clinical practice, I’ve taken dietary histories on thousands of adults and children. At some point, nearly all Americans have eaten Chinese food, either by going to a restaurant or getting take-out. If I ask them if they avoid monosodium glutamate – what they know as MSG – those that have heard of it will almost always say they avoid it. My patients who would be considered “foodies” almost universally avoid MSG in their food. Or do they? More about that later.
Sensitivity to MSG, commonly known as “Chinese restaurant syndrome” started not with any evidence, but with an article written by a physician in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968.
I’m not exactly sure why, but the question of whether monosodium glutamate and gluten are related is a common one. There can be some confusion over the terms involved, as well as how MSG is produced, so if you’re concerned about gluten, here’s what you need to know…
Maybe it’s the G-L-U? You might have noticed that the first several letters of both words are the same. Unless one is familiar with nutrition science, the words used in the discipline can be confusing—especially if they sound similar—or partially similar, like these two do. This similarity doesn’t mean that the two things are related at all.
I don’t know about you, but way too often, I get in a cooking rut and it’s hard to escape. It is far too easy to fall in the routine of preparing the same meals over and over again. While familiarity and habits can be good things, life is just too short to not explore options. Of course, since this is a food blog, I am talking about becoming more adventurous when it comes to meal preparation.
Let’s take entrees for example. When I was a kid, we regularly had fried chicken for Sunday dinner. It was always superb since Mom was a fabulous cook. Every now and again, if the budget allowed, she would switch it up and make pan-fried chopped round steak. Now that was truly a memorable treat (no wonder it was the meal I wanted for my birthday dinner, along with mashed potatoes and flavorful pan gravy). All of those Sunday dinners stuck with me as being very special, even though they were predictable. Repetition can be a good thing for that very reason. But I can’t tell you what we had for dinner any other day of the week!
What about you? Are you tired of making the same entrees over and over again? If so, I challenge you to give these recipes some consideration. They are loaded with so much lip smacking taste, your family will thank you! Some of them are inspired by cuisines from the Far East, a trend that has been mainstream for years. These savory entrees will knock your taste buds out, thanks in part to the rich umami taste provided in part by a combination of seasonings. Hope you enjoy all of these recipes that offer more savory goodness!
At a recent cookout, the host was making margaritas and asking guests if they would like the rim of their glass to be salted. That got me thinking… We add salt rims, sugar syrups, sour mixes and bitters to drinks, but does anyone add umami? Is there this whole other flavor that hasn’t made it into cocktails yet? Of course, many drinks contain ingredients naturally high in glutamate (the amino acid responsible for umami flavor) like tomato juice. Other beverages like sake and aged champagne inherently have high levels of glutamate as well. But is there anyone deliberately adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) to cocktails to intentionally beef up the savory flavor?
As a dietitian, I’m happy to share the science-based information I have on many topics—including monosodium glutamate. There are lots of scientific studies on this ingredient, so there’s no lack of information to provide to people seeking answers to their “MSG problems”. The thing is, people have to be open to hearing the information.