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Opening the Doors to Healthier and Stress-Free Living

A Column by Alice Abbott-Moore,
Content Access/Information Delivery Teams, Ekstrom Library

Spice Up Your Life

When I decided to change my eating habits almost six years ago, I had to address the amount of sodium in my diet. I never really considered how much sodium I ingested daily. However, I quickly found that even though I didn't add salt to my food when cooking and/or preparing food, there was already enough salt in the items I purchased.

Through the years I have known a few people on low-sodium diets. Just last year, a man I know was waiting for a liver transplant and before his surgery (he was very fortunate to receive a liver eventually), he was placed on an extremely "low-sodium" diet. Because so many foods naturally have salt/sodium in them and are prepared with even more, he had to make his own food from scratch. This made preparing foods at home very difficult, and eating at restaurants virtually impossible.

The FDA recommends that everyone, regardless of health problems, limit his or her sodium intake. I have heard the magic number to be 2200 milligrams or less a day. Everyone needs a little salt, but not too much. Salt intake does aid in the prevention of dehydration. But too much sodium leads to elevated blood pressure and water retention. Studies have found a correlation between high-sodium intake and high blood pressure. Cutting salt and sodium consumption can reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Processed and prepared foods contain large amounts of sodium and salt. Sodium and sodium chloride – known commonly as salt -- occur naturally in foods, usually in small amounts. However, many people add salt and salty sauces to their food. While it is important to have a little salt in one's diet, one can live healthier with low-sodium levels.

At the "Let's Cook" website, one can find low-sodium recipes for main dishes, salads, side dishes, soups, desserts, condiments, and other miscellaneous items. Such resources show cooks how to prepare tasty foods with reduced amounts of sodium.

Recipes on the Internet at:
Let's Cook

Shepherd's Pie
5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
¾ C skim milk
3 T unsalted butter
To taste freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
To taste serrano peppers, minced
3 T olive oil
One onion, chopped
1½ lbs. ground round
2 T flour
3 T Worcestershire sauce

Boil potatoes until almost done. Drain and transfer to large mixing bowl. Add butter and milk. Mash, and then beat with electric mixer until creamy. Set aside. Sauté onion in hot oil until almost tender. Add garlic and serrano and sauté one minute more. Mix in flour. Add Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Meat should be moist but not wet.

Spoon meat into a two-quart casserole. Cover evenly with mashed potatoes. Bake at 350° 50 minutes or until edges bubble and a crust forms on the potatoes. 8 - 10 servings

Sodium Content in milligrams:
5 mediumPotatoes, peeled and chopped35
¾ CSkim milk95
3 TUnsalted butter6
3 clovesGarlic, minced3
To tasteSerrano peppers, minced1
OneOnion, chopped4
1 ½ lbs.Ground round468
3 TWorcestershire sauce300
Recipe total = 912 mg

Meatless Chili by Rosie
As needed vegetable cooking spray
One t olive oil
One onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2½ C chopped yellow Bell pepper
One T ground cumin
One T chili powder
One T hot Hungarian paprika
2 t sugar
¼ t ground cloves
28 oz canned no salt added stewed tomatoes, undrained
1½ C cooked dry kidney beans
1½ C cooked dry cannelini beans
1½ C cooked dry black beans
One C water
2 T no salt added tomato paste
2 T balsamic vinegar
¼ C + 2 T Minced fresh cilantro

Coat a large pot with cooking spray and add olive oil. Place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is tender. Add yellow pepper and sauté until pepper is tender. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients. Sauté for one minute. Stir in tomatoes and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Ladle chili into individual bowls. Top each serving with one-tablespoon cilantro. Serves about six -- 1 2/3 C servings

Sodium Content in milligrams:
OneOnion, chopped4
2 clovesGarlic, minced2
2 ½ CChopped yellow Bell pepper8
One TGround cumin12
One TChili powder3
One THot Hungarian paprika3
¼ tGround cloves2
28 oz.Hunt's No Salt Added canned stewed tomatoes, undrained60
1 ½ CCooked dry kidney beans 6
1 ½ CCooked dry cannelini beans6
1 ½ CCooked dry black beans3
2 THunt's No Salt Added tomato paste10
¼ C + 2 TMinced fresh cilantro2
Recipe total = 122 mg

Alpha Nutrition on Nutrition Dietary Guidelines:
Let's Cook:
Salt Free Life: