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Homemade Dill Pickles

Who doesn’t love a crisp, vinegar-infused pickle that’s been marinating in the fridge for a few weeks? In the summer months especially, I find myself craving pickles between meals or as a late-night snack. Not to mention, they make the best side to homemade burgers or additions to cold sandwiches. And believe me when I say, they are so easy to make at home! I’ve been away on vacation for the past couple weeks and there’s nothing better than coming home to a few jars of pickles that have been soaking up all that dill and vinegar for the last few weeks.

I started making these pickles a couple years ago and since then, it’s been hard to go back to store-bought pickles. But naturally there are times when our lives get too busy and we just don’t have the time. The beauty of investing in some of the supplies early-on is most of the equipment lasts for quite a while (i.e. mason jars, fine sea salt, etc.). And depending on how much of the produce you have growing in a garden vs. buy from the store will make a (small) monetary difference. If you’re an online shopper, I linked as much as possible in my list below to make your first pickling process smoother.

Dill pickles 1

Supplies needed:

Food needed:

  • Dill seed
  • Fresh dill (I used from my garden, but is generally $2-3 at the store)
  • Heirloom pickle cucumbers/Kirby or salad cucumbers work well too (again here, I used cucumbers from my garden, but I have also used store-bought cucumbers and they work great as well; about $0.50 per cucumber)
  • 100% fine sea salt
  • White vinegar
  • Garlic cloves (Depending on your local grocery store, about $0.69 each)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

I anticipate many of you have a saucepan, metal whisk, cutting board, knife, and might be able to rig up a few old pickle jars to cut down on initial cost. The nice thing is the majority of the supplies will be used several times over so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

I started off by cleaning the mason jars. If you’re short on time like I was last time, I just stuck those babies in the dishwasher on quick cycle. Otherwise, washing the mason jars on hot, soapy water will do the trick. Now is when you’ll also want to wash your fresh dill and cucumbers.

Once the cucumbers are dry, slice off the ends and cut into wedges. You can also do pickle coins or halved-lengthwise…your choice!

Dill pickles 2

Next, add your fresh dill, dill seed, garlic, and red pepper flakes (optional). You’ll want to use at least one sprig of fresh dill in each mason jar. I love fresh dill so for me, the more the merrier. But if you want to play it safe, stick with 1-2 sprigs of fresh dill per mason jar.



Now that the mason jars are prepped and ready to go, start adding your wedged cucumbers into each mason jar until full. Depending on how many cucumbers you have, you can really pack them in or just fill the mason jars evenly.



Once your done filling the jars with the cucumbers, it’s time to boil the water, vinegar, and salt in the saucepan. Once the salt is dissolved (about 4-5 minutes), set aside and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using the funnel, pour the vinegar-water mixture into each mason jar evenly leaving about an inch from the top. Tighten the top on each of the jars and place in the refrigerator for about 1 week before consuming. They should last about 2 months in the refrigerator. Keep in mind, these are not canned pickles so they should not be stored at room temperature for any extended period of time.

The beauty of learning this quick pickling method is you can apply it to most other fresh vegetables that you would like pickle. For example, radishes, carrots, green beans, and asparagus also pickle nicely. You can also try different spices, herbs, or vinegars with any of these vegetables.


Dill pickles 5

Dill Pickles

Prep Time 1 hour
Servings 4 mason jars


  • 6-7 salad or kirby cucumbers
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp dill seed
  • 2 tbsp 100% fine sea salt
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Wash mason jars with hot soapy water, dry, and set aside (you can also boil the jars in hot water for 10 minutes as well). If you’re short on time, I just ran mine through the dishwasher on quick wash.

  2. Wash the cucumbers and fresh dill and pat dry.

  3. Once dry, cut off the ends of each cucumber and cut into wedges.

  4. Add one peeled garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of dill weed, 1-3 dill sprigs, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional) to each mason jar.

  5. Fill each mason jar with the cucumber wedges.

  6. Combine salt, vinegar, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until salt dissolves (~4-5 minutes).

  7. Once the salt has dissolved into the vinegar and water, remove the saucepan from the heat, and pour the vinegar mixture equally into each mason jar, leaving 1/2-1 inch from the top of the jar. Let it sit and cool for at least 10-15 minutes.

  8. Seal each jar with the lid and lightly tap on the top of the lid to help remove bubbles.

  9. Refrigerate and allow at least 1 week for pickling before trying (longer if desired flavor-wise). 

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Colorless Foods: Part of a healthy rainbow?

My segment on WZZM 13 this week featured tips on whether or not colorless foods have a place in a healthy diet. Americans often get advice from dietitians to color their plate and eat the rainbow to ensure their diet is packed with antioxidants and adequate vitamins and minerals. Specifically, deep blue hues from different berries are packed with anthocyanins, bright orange and green-colored vegetables, such as bell peppers and kale are chalk of the anti-oxidant, beta-carotene.


These antioxidants help fight off inflammation and free radical damage in the body. And these foods are still very important for this reason. However, some colorless foods definitely deserve a spot on your plate for their healthy nutrient content.

In recent years, colorless foods have received a very bad reputation. And most for good reason! Foods, such as white bread, white sugar, white flour, and white bread often lack nutrition quality, dietary fiber, protective antioxidants, and as many vitamins and minerals as their healthier whole grain or complex carbohydrate counterparts. However, there are colorless foods that should make a regular appearance in your diet due to their anti-oxidant properties and vitamin/mineral content. Let’s talk about four colorless foods to start incorporating in your diet now:

Want to skip to the video? Click here.

Colorless food selfie at WZZM

Bananas. Bananas often get a bad reputation due to their sugar content, but it’s important to remember where the sugar is coming from. Sugar from fresh fruit is a natural sugar that are often digested differently based on the fiber content. Bananas are not only a good source of fiber, but they are also good sources of potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, folate, and niacin. Eat bananas whole or mix with yogurt and a nut butter for a healthy snack between meals.

Potatoes. “Too many carbs!” is the most frequent statement I hear from patients when we talk about potatoes. The truth is your body needs the right type of carbohydrates for energy and to function properly. Glycemic index is measurement of a food’s effect on an individuals’ blood sugar level. A higher glycemic index food may cause greater spikes in blood sugar due to rapidly-absorbed simple carbohydrates. As a result, a higher glycemic index diet may contribute to insulin resistance, a precursor for Type 2 Diabetes. For example, baked Russet potatoes only have a moderately high glycemic index, as opposed to a higher glycemic index from instant, white mashed potatoes. Potatoes (with the skin on!) are a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and magnesium.

Colorless food pic at the studio

Mushrooms. Mushrooms are a good source of selenium, potassium, niacin, copper, and iron. They also provide a small amount of vitamin D and protein. Mushrooms also provide a small amount of choline, a vitamin-like nutrient that may improve memory and muscle function. Mushrooms are also incredibly versatile! Add them raw to salads, cook them with different vegetables such as onions, or use them as a substitute for beef for meatless burger option.

Cauliflower. This cruciferous vegetable is high on the list for nutrition quality. Cauliflower is great source of vitamin C and a good source of B vitamins, dietary fiber, and manganese. Due to the phytochemical content from glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli, these vegetables have been linked to cancer prevention. Cauliflower makes a great low carbohydrate option for several recipes, such as cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, or cauliflower pizza crust.

These are just some of the many colorless foods that deserve a place on your plate and in your dietary rainbow. Be sure to try ginger, white nectarines, jicama, parsnips, turnips, artichokes, garlic, and onions for their own unique flavor and nutrient profiles that can benefit your diet.






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Pickling 101

I recently finished a fictional novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen. The book is about the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) hitting the United States. Now I’m sure you are asking yourself “what is an EMP”? Time to nerd out for a second…an EMP is the result of a nuclear warhead being detonated miles above the Earth’s surface. An EMP emits blasts of gamma radiation which alter the magnetic and electric fields on Earth’s surface and ultimately permanently damage all of our electronics. And this would not be just a brief power outage. This would mean you cannot use any of these electronics again. That includes most cars nowadays, computers, phones, any outlets therefore, refrigeration and your freezer are also SOL. In other words, we are put back in the stone ages. The need to hunt and gather becomes our new reality.

This book really hit home with the reality of our food dependence as a society. Many kids and even adults don’t know where some of our food comes from, such as cuts of meat or fruits and vegetables. Some of us have not been challenged to think about where our food comes from. This book reminded me of the importance of knowing where food comes from, not only for the sake of understanding our food system, but also to teach myself skills that allow me to not be as dependent on grocery stores. God forbid, if something like this did actually happen in our time, I would have the skills to preserve food for longer periods of time.

When I think about pickling or canning, I immediately think of my grandparents. They are really the only people I remember actually pickling and canning food when I was a kid. Now, most people buy their canned or pickled goods in the grocery store. Pickling or canning now almost seems a little medieval really. However, pickling and canning can be a great skill to preserve any extra produce from your garden or even from the grocery store. Pickling has been used in different cultures for centuries, such as the Germans with sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and Koreans with kimchi (fermented napa cabbage, radish, scallions, garlic, ginger, and cucumber). Pickling has also had a surge in the foodie world. It creates a twist on acidic flavors and allows chefs to be more eco-friendly by preserving certain produce for longer periods of time.

Pickling expands the lifespan of food through fermentation with brine or vinegar, which kills most bacteria and lowers the pH or acidity level. This fermentation process affects the texture and flavor of the food. Pickled foods can last up to 5-6 months. As opposed to canning, the food does not need to be completely sterile before sealing. The fermentation process, level of acidity, and lack of oxygen help kill the bacteria and alter the flavor of the food.

Basic pickling includes:

  • Salt (and sometimes sugar as well)
  • Vinegar
  • Desired fruit or vegetable
  • Desired spices (common ones: mustard seed, garlic, cinnamon, cloves)

You can use a wide array of vinegars (white, red wine, balsamic, rice wine, apple cider, Sherry, white wine, etc.). I used red wine, white, and rice wine vinegar and made pickled cucumbers with onion, ginger, and radishes. See below for these recipes!


How to use pickled fruits and vegetables:

  • Add to fresh salads.
  • Serve pickled radishes with a sunny side egg.
  • Top your sushi with homemade pickled ginger.
  • Dip pickled vegetables in hummus.
  • Enjoy as a stand-alone side dish with lunch or dinner.
  • Add to an antipasto appetizer platter.
  • Add to your favorite sandwich (i.e. Banh mi).

Health Benefits:

  • Fermentation during pickling creates probiotics.
  • Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits.
  • The potential health benefits of probiotics still requires more research, but some evidence has demonstrated that probiotics may help promote healthy gut flora, which in turn can help regulate gut function.
  • Other probiotic-containing foods: yogurt, Kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, etc.



  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Mandoline slicer
  • Pint size mason jars (wash all needed jars with soapy water, rinse, and dry before using)
  • Measuring cups and spoons


Pickled Ginger


  • Yield: 1 mason jar full
  •  Ingredients:
    • 12 oz fresh ginger (2-3 big roots)
    • 1 red radish
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    • 1 cup water
  • Directions:
    • Peel the outer layer of the ginger root and discard.
    • Using a mandoline slicer, slice the ginger root into small pieces.
    • In a small bowl, toss ginger with the salt and set aside for 30 minutes.
    • Wash a radish, slice off the root end, and slice thinly using the mandolin slicer.
    • Add radish then ginger to the mason jar.
    • In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, and water to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove pan from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
    • Once cooled, add the vinegar mixture to the mason jar and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator.

Pickled Radishes

  • Yield: 1 mason jar full
  •  Ingredients:
    • 1 bunch of radishes (~8-10 radishes)
    • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
    • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Pickled Radishes

  • Directions:
    • Wash the radishes and cut off the root ends.
    • Slice thinly with a knife or with mandoline slicer.
    • Pack sliced radishes into a mason jar.
    • Whisk the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a small bowl and add to jar.
    • Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Spicy-Sweet Pickled Cucumbers


  • Yield: 1 mason jar full
  •  Ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup sliced onion (I used yellow onion)
    • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
    • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 3 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tsp Kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup white vinegar (rice wine vinegar can also be used)
    • 1 English cucumber


  • Directions:
    • Using a mandoline slicer or sharp knife, slice the cucumber and onion.
    • In a saucepan, bring chili flakes, lime juice, brown sugar, salt, and vinegar to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove pan from the heat.
    • Add vinegar mixture to cucumbers and onion in a medium sized bowl.
    • Once at room temperature, add the brine with cucumbers and onion to the mason jar.
    • Seal tightly and refrigerate.