Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flavorful low sodium family meals

I try to keep our menu really healthy.  I enjoy creating tasty meals for my family and am always trying new recipes.  One thing we all need to be conscience of is the sodium content of our food.  have you ever looked at labels on things like prepared frozen meals?  Its really amazing.  I have seen some of the "TV Dinner" type meals that have actually had over 80% of your RDA of sodium in them!  And you know those meals are not huge portions in any way!  80%!  If you use ingredients like condensed soups and those dry onion soup mixes....add up the total sodium in those recipes.  You might be amazed at how much it all adds up to! 

So how can you help reduce your sodium intake?  The first easy way is to taste first.  So many people have a habit of grabbing the salt shaker and shaking on salt before they even taste their food.   Sometime when you are at a restaurant watch people around you when they get their food.  You will probably see a lot of people doing just that...salting without tasting!  I would be willing to guess any food you get at a restuarant is not going to need salt.  The sodium content is probably pretty high when it arrives at your table!   

Next, when you cook eliminate the salt in recipes all together.  I very very rarely use salt in cooking.  Its not missed at all.  There are some things that pretty typically going to need some potatoes.  But even then I add very little and taste.  Rarely do I need whats called for in a recipe. 

When making things that need some spicing up, try something other than salt.  Mrs Dash makes seasoning blends that will make you forget the salt shaker all together!  How about some Mrs Dash on potatoes?  French fries with a dash of Mrs Dash!  And think skip deep frying altogether and make broiled potatoe slices and shake on the Mrs. Dash...a double win!

Buy ingredients labeled "no sodium added" or "low sodium".  From crackers to soups and broths, canned tomatoes to pickles, there are so many products these days available in "low sodium" options.  Most of the time you can use these salt-less choices and still not have to add any salt to your recipe.  Make sure when you use things like canned beans you rinse them in water before adding to your recipe.  This will help to remove some of that sodium. 

Consider making your own ingredients that tend to be high sodium when bought.  Broths are a great example.  Buying chicken parts and cooking them up with some herbs and spices takes a bit of time but is not hard at all.  You can get a great big quantity that will be so much lower in sodium than store bought broth.  Freeze what you don't need to use later.  Making other things like barbecue sauce is pretty simple too.

The new trend in frozen vegtalbes is to have them all seasoned in a bag that you just microwave steam and then serve.  Handy?  maybe.  But the sodium content is probably pretty bad..and we won't even go into the calories and fat in some of those sauces they can be in!  So make sure when you purchase frozen vegtables they are nothing more than simply vegtables!

Did you know that Mrs Dash comes in 15  flavors?  I didn't know they had such a big variety.  Doing most of my grocery shopping in pretty small towns you get used to having a low selection of items.  I am definately going to be looking for some of the Mrs Dash varieties I saw online, however. 

Mrs Dash has a new Citrus lime variety.  that would be all you need to add to some Boneless chicken breasts and it would be so easy, delicious and quick!

They have an extra spicy variety.  The weather is turning cold.  How about some Chili??  Use low sodium bean and rinse them.  Buy low sodium tomato ingredients.  Use no salt and at the end add that extra spicy Mrs Dash to taste.  If you have children skip adding it to the pot and season your bowl individually leaving it out of the little ones portions.

Have you ever made Refried beans without the refry in a crock pot?  I love doing them this way! 
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 9 cups water
  • Mrs Dash (try the extra spicy or the Southwest Chipolte!) to taste
  1. Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.
  2. Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.Add Mrs Dash to taste.
If you find your veggies a bit boring, try putting a bit of zip into them with Mrs Dash.  Green beans would be great with the Italian medley blend.  Broccoli yummy with lemon pepper blend.  Corn could use some garlic herb.

Get creative!  not only will your food taste great, you will be providing your family with wonderfully healthy meals!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the Mrs. Dash and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

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