Monday, February 10, 2014

Tidbits: Two Quick Ways to Reduce the Sodium

Happy Heart Month! Does anyone need reminding why a person should aim for a lower sodium intake? Ok, here's a reminder list. Low sodium eating helps your heart, lungs, blood pressure, puffy feet and ankles, puffy fingers, puffy face, kidneys, and so on. Some of the sodium you eat is difficult to avoid (restaurant food, fast food, dinner at a church potluck, etc.) But when you cook your own foods, you have some control over the amount of sodium in the dishes you make.

That's why I am so excited with this new product I found at the grocery store. It is worth trying for anyone trying to reduce the sodium in family meals.

I think most everyone knows about the original Mrs. Dash products; they are herb and spice blends in shakers that can add flavor to foods without adding sodium.  I have heard a few complaints (from people who are trying to follow a low-sodium eating plan) that the original Mrs. Dash was too plain (not spicy enough). But recently, the company has added a number of spice blend flavors that fit more recipes. I like the Chicken Grilling blend (I use it for baked chicken), the Steak Grilling blend and the Lemon Pepper (for fish).  These new Mrs. Dash packets are a new twist on the idea.

Instead of buying packets of taco seasoning that contain 2400 milligrams of sodium per packet, why not buy the Mrs. Dash version, and get the flavor without the sodium?  I found these in the same section of the store as the other flavor packets.

If you think about it, 2400 milligrams of sodium is the same amount as in one teaspoon of salt.  (That's supposed to be the target of sodium eaten in one day by one person, by the way).

If you used one of these Mrs. Dash flavoring packets and found that your taco meat or chili needs some salt to taste good to you, you could add a little salt (one-quarter teaspoon at a time) to your dish. You might be pleasantly surprised that the food tastes great with less sodium.  

A second way to reduce sodium is to drain your canned vegetables before adding them to a dish, or before eating them.  The drained vegetable contains half the sodium that is listed on the Nutrition Facts label (the label assumes you would be drinking the fluid, I guess).

This can of green beans from Del Monte now lists the sodium percent when the product is both drained and undrained. You can readily see that the sodium is half when drained.

One recipe I make, Seven-Can Soup, is made lower in sodium when I drain and rinse the can of corn, the black beans and the chicken. I don't rinse the diced tomatoes or salsa, so you still get some sodium in the soup, but it is much less than if you poured all of the liquids into the soup pot (and way less than if you opened a can of ready-made soup).