Learning to turn any recipe into a low sodium recipe is a crucial step in transitioning to your low sodium lifestyle. These simple tips will show you how.
Cooking meals at home is the easiest way to manage your sodium intake. Learning to adapt any recipe to suit your sodium requirements will ensure you can still enjoy your favorite recipes and prepare new recipes safely. When our family transitioned to a low sodium lifestyle, one of my biggest concerns was that my husband would no longer be able to eat his favorite foods. I quickly learned that was not necessarily the case. While high sodium foods like hot dogs may not be in our regular dinner rotation (They’re an occasional splurge when we can plan to lower his sodium intake for the rest of the day.), he still eats his favorite foods, just a lower sodium version. (Check out his all-time favorite Low Sodium Spaghetti Sauce.)
I learned to focus on the foods he can safely enjoy and how to adapt those recipes to create a healthier-for-him version.
How to Make Any Recipe a Low Sodium Recipe
If you’re cooking for yourself or are lucky enough to have someone prepare your meals, you already have a headstart on reducing the sodium in your diet. Learning to modify recipes to suit your sodium requirements will allow you to add countless new dishes to your low sodium menu. Here are a few tips to help make any recipe low sodium.
Check Your Ingredient List
The first step in converting a recipe to low sodium is checking the list of ingredients. Look at the sodium content of each ingredient (Enter your ingredients into the nutrition calculator at USDA Food Data Central for foods without a nutrition label.) Once you identify the sodium sources in the recipe, decide whether you can omit that ingredient from your recipe or if you can replace it with a lower sodium option.
If you’re unsure about choosing a lower sodium option, don’t be afraid to Google your ingredients. My husband loves a turkey sandwich, but I knew processed deli meats were notoriously high in sodium. A quick Google search introduced me to the Boar’s Head brand of lower sodium deli meats. Their No Salt Added Turkey Breast contains only 55 mg of sodium per 2 oz serving.
Choose Low Sodium or No Salt Added Condiments
When you’re tracking your sodium intake, every milligram of sodium counts. One tablespoon of ketchup can contain 150mgs of sodium. Other condiments like barbecue sauce, mustard, and mayonnaise can also be high in sodium. Swap out the high sodium versions for lower sodium or no salt added condiments.
Skip the Soy Sauce
Soy sauce, even the reduced sodium versions, is notoriously high in sodium. One tablespoon of reduced-sodium soy sauce can contain more than 600 mg of sodium, with standard soy sauce clocking in at more than 1000mgs of sodium per tablespoon. You can still enjoy your favorite Asian dishes without eating a day’s worth of sodium in one bite. There are numerous soy sauce recipes online that significantly reduce the sodium count (This one from HackingSalt.com is a winner.) – but if you’re looking for a lower sodium store-bought option, Coconut Aminos are worth a try. The flavor is similar to soy sauce without an excessive amount of sodium. Use it sparingly in your dishes because even though it contains much less sodium than soy sauce, one tablespoon of coconut aminos has 270mgs of sodium. Used carefully in a dish, it can be a great way to enjoy the Asian-inspired flavors you might miss on a low sodium diet without wrecking your daily sodium intake numbers.
Swap Baking Soda and Baking Powder for Salt-Free Versions
Baking soda and baking powder are essential ingredients for baking, but both contain significant amounts of sodium. A teaspoon of baking powder can contain nearly 500 mg of sodium, and a teaspoon of baking soda has more than 1200 mg of sodium. Fortunately, there are sodium-free options available. Ener-G Baking Soda Substitute and Hain Featherweight Baking Powder give you the same result without sodium.
Look for Low Sodium Broths and Stocks
Broths and stocks can be sneaky sources of sodium if you’re not careful. Even lower or reduced-sodium products can still contain more than 500 mg per serving. If you can’t make your own, purchase the lowest sodium version available. Pacific Foods Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth is the lowest I’ve found, with only 40 mg of sodium per cup.
Rinse and Repeat
Dried beans are the best option for controlling the sodium in your recipes but if you don’t have the time or energy, choose no salt added canned beans. If regular canned beans are your only option, drain and rinse them in cold water. According to the American Heart Association, this can reduce their sodium count by up to 40%.
Ditch the Salt
This may seem obvious but skip the recipe steps that advise you to season to taste or add salt. If you are still cooking with small amounts of salt, measure out a safe amount for your sodium restrictions and use no more than that amount. Try replacing salt with freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Like salt, lemon naturally enhances food’s natural flavors, and one study found that adding lemon juice or zest to food in place of salt can help cut your sodium intake by as much as 75%.
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