Dear Home Ec 101:
After several trips to the doctor for migraine headaches we’ve pinpointed one of my triggers. It’s MSG and boy is it in a lot of foods. What is MSG anyhow? I love casseroles and cream based soups, but I have been reading the ingredients and they are off limits. Is there a substitution? Popping a can just is not worth the headache.
Just sign me,
A new label lookie-loo
Finding there is a dietary source to your misery can be both freeing and disheartening. Congratulations on going to the doctor and kudos to your doctor for helping you find the cause.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a “flavor enhancer,” it makes food taste better by stimulating the tastebuds. It is an inexpensive additive used to make foods seem more flavorful without any additional effort or special techniques. It is not specifically the use of MSG that I’m against. You can read what actually gets me riled up about MSG in processed foods in this article: Food Labels, Controversy, and MSG.
I often recommend Better Than Bouillon Organic for wherever bouillon cubes or bases are called. They do not contain added MSG. This does not mean they are free of glutamic acid, which is present in a wide variety of foods. I have used this with much success. Consult a nutritionist if you are unsure.
Making your own cream of chicken (or any other condensed cream soup) is very similar to making gravy.
This recipe makes approximate 3/4 cup or what would be half a can in recipes, double if needed.
Condensed Cream of Chicken
- 1 TBSP butter
- 3 TBSP all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup low or nonfat milk
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- salt/pepper to taste
First measure the ingredients and be sure to have the flour and liquid readily accessible as you will be adding them alternately.
In a sauce pan melt the butter over medium low heat and slowly add flour, stirring constantly until a roux has formed. Slowly alternate adding the liquid, a small splash at a time with a sprinkling of flour.
Stir constantly, the mixture should look like the picture before the next addition.
Once all the flour is in the roux, slowly add the liquid a little at a time.
Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, add the salt and pepper, and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and use as you would canned condensed cream of chicken soup.
Now you can have your favorite casseroles and cream soups without the headache.
(Photo Credit Wikipedia)