Last weekend I spent some time with my family on a last minute out of town trip with the hubby. It was so nice to see my mom, dad, and brothers..and even better, having someone else cook for me Friday evening my mom made good dinner.. meatloaf she personally printed from CB (shout-out..yaaay!) Sunday before heading home, we made a trip to the mall (yes, my obsession with shopping follows me to other cities..most dangerous during these times, but works best with the phrase “But, I can’t get this in Dallas..”) Our tummies were telling us it was lunch time, and closest to the Apple Store was the (dreaded) Food Court. From my experience, Food Court choices aren’t always the smartest, but you can generally find something that wont break your bank on calories. Various employees lined the court with samples, luring you into their sectional buffet. I spotted a sandwich place, and though for sure I had my lunch nailed. Sample Man handed me a toothpick, and YIKES- the most salty little bite EVER. It was a sandwich!! That thought spiraled into many about what salt/sodium actually is, and why do we even need it?! Sodium in its various forms has several functions in our food. Sodium chloride or salt, as well as sodium are used as preservatives in packaged (deli) meats, salad dressings, condiments, and cheeses, and not to forget, canned goods. Salt/sodium is also used to enhance or change flavor- this is what we often take advantage of. Sodium is an essential nutrient, but very little is needed in the diet. About 75% of the sodium that Americans consume comes from the sodium added to pre-packaged foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture state that an individual food that has the claim “healthy” must not exceed 480 mg sodium per serving. In combined meal type products must not exceed 600 mg sodium per serving size. High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. With an average American consuming over 3,500mg sodium per day–reducing the amount of sodium you consume can help lower high blood pressure or prevent it from developing in the first place. Keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels is important, because high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks or stroke. The American Heart Association offers excellent resources for reducing salt intake to help improve over all heart health. Try these simple tips:
•Rinse canned vegetables and avoid adding salt during cooking.
•Select unsalted, lower sodium, fat-free broths, condiments, or soups.
•Select fat-free or low-fat milk, low-sodium, low-fat cheeses and low-fat yogurt.
•Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food. (Most spices naturally contain very little sodium.)
•Add fresh lemon juice instead of salt to fish and vegetables.
•Choose fresh, frozen or canned food items without added salts.
•Limit salty snacks and select unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils.
and- SIMPLY put away the salt shaker
Low sodium substitutions have inspired this popular appetizer (note, perfect for a weeknight dinner- so quick and easy, and super satisfying!)
1/2 cup chickpeas
3 cups fresh Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp ginger root, peeled and minced
1 (8oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rough chopped
3/4 cup Mung bean sprouts
1 cup green onions
12 Boston lettuce leafs
4 tbsp Hoisin sauce
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp Mirin, or rice vinegar
2 tsp sweet red chile sauce
2 tbsp Sesame oil
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, combine hoisin, soy sauce, Mirin (rice vinegar), sweet chile sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey, garlic, and ginger to pan; cook 6 minutes or until turkey is browned, stirring to crumble. Pour about half of soy sauce mixture over turkey, stirring well. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan, add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add onions, chickpeas, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts to turkey-mushroom mixture, saute until heated through. Spoon 1/2 cup turkey mixture into each lettuce leaf. Serve remaining sauce with lettuce cups.