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Deciphering salted and unsalted butter

DEAR HELOISE: Why do so many recipes call for unsalted butter yet still call for salt in the recipe? I already stock real butter, margarine and soft spread in my fridge and really don’t see the need to have unsalted butter as well. It has been necessary for us to watch our salt intake, and I never use salt in my baking since there is already enough in the soda or baking powder. — Margaret Rasmussen, Hill City, S.D.

Margaret, salted and unsalted butter are exactly the same, except one has salt added. Seems obvious, I know. Salt was originally added (1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of salt per stick) to help it last longer. Salted butter is probably what most people have at home, but unsalted is good for those on a low-sodium diet. If a recipe calls for salted or unsalted butter, either can be used.

You don’t really need to adjust the salt asked for in the recipe if you use the unsalted. Unless you are using a lot of butter, there isn’t very much in a portion size. — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: Stretch your food dollars, increase nutrition and save time: Canned soups can be expensive, especially when you have hungry teenagers to feed. I start with a can of a "chunky" type of soup as a base and add one can of beef or chicken broth (depending on the variety of soup), a can of protein-rich beans and 2 tablespoons of whole-grain couscous.

The beans add extra protein and fiber, the broth stretches the volume, and the couscous thickens the soup and adds yet more healthy fiber. Sometimes, I’ll add a can of vegetable juice if I’ve started with a tomato-based soup. I vary the beans, such as cannelloni and kidney beans. By the time the soup is good and hot, the couscous is already tender. These home-blended soups are even better when reheated the next day. Delicious. — David G., Washington, D.C.

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DEAR HELOISE: Wipe off your kitchen counter with a dishrag. Then take a black dishrag and wipe it off again. You will see what all you’ve missed! It is amazing. It was an eye-opener. — Kathy, via e-mail

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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