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Low Sodium Cooking Tricks for Flavorful Food

Posted by Michael Thrash, CEC, CCA, PCII and Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Jan 13, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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Low sodium meals don’t have to be flavorless! Thinking outside the salt shaker can yield some results that are both healthy and delicious. Here are a few little flavor boosters that are perfect for any low sodium diet, and for those looking to reduce their sodium intake. 

Sodium Substitutes

It’s hard to talk about low sodium diets without talking about table salt substitutes. This option almost seems like cheating - the flavor of salt, without the sodium? There are many “light salt” and sodium substitutes on the market, if you’re not quite ready to part with that salty flavor. Of course, these substitutes don’t work for everyone and may not be the best option for a cardiac diet, so be sure to talk to your doctor before piling this stuff on your food.

Another downside of sodium substitutes is that while they might leave your food with a hint of saltiness, they don’t add any flavor. For full flavor in your meals without added salt, you might want to ditch the sodium substitute and look to the tips below.

Start with Aromatics

You may have noticed that many dishes start with a base of vegetables like onions, carrots, celery and peppers. These aromatics bring excellent flavor to dishes without adding any sodium at all. Garlic, ginger and lemongrass make a rich and flavorful base for a stir-fry, and sliced scallions and peppers will really make your salads sing! There are so many different flavor combinations to try, that you’ll never get bored. 

For a simple way to get started using aromatics in your cooking, try covering meat or fish with a layer of sliced onions before roasting or grilling. This will bring loads of extra flavor without adding any salt.

Low_Sodium_Meals.jpgAdd Some Herbs and Spices

After you’ve got your aromatic base going, the next step to adding flavor to your meals without adding salt is to give the old spice rack a whirl. Herbs and spices can add so much flavor to a dish, without extra sodium. Add spices to the dish at the beginning of cooking, so that the flavors all mix in together. Dried herbs can be added towards the end of cooking, and fresh herbs can be chopped up and used to garnish a cooked dish.

Fresh spices will add a lot more flavor to a dish, so check the expiration date! Once opened, spices should be used within six months of purchase for maximum flavor. With so many spice mixes available on the market, it’s easy to recreate any style of cooking in your home kitchen! Just be sure to read the label, as many commercial spice mixes will contain some sodium.

A Little Acidity Goes a Long Way

If you’re looking to add a lot of flavor to vegetables, seafood or poultry, citrus is the key! Squeezing a wedge of lemon over a completed dish enhances the flavors and adds a nice zing, and you can add even more flavor by slicing up citrus wedges and arranging them on top of the dish before placing it in the oven.

Citrus zest (the colorful part of the rind) is another flavor booster. Simply sprinkle zest over cooked meats and vegetables for a simple and delicious meal upgrade. Citrus zest is also a great addition to homemade salad dressings, and can brighten up desserts as well.

Sometimes all a dish needs to round out the flavors, is a bit of acidity, but not every dish works perfectly with citrus. When lemon juice won’t work, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a dash of wine or a bit of vinegar can really enhance flavors without adding sodium or too much sugar.

Healthy Home Delivered Meals

If constantly cooking nutritionally balanced, low sodium meals seems daunting, the simplest way to enjoy flavorful food on a low sodium diet is to have your meals delivered! You can have low sodium meals delivered to your doorstep that work perfectly with a low salt diet, and taste delicious. Plus, say goodbye to all of that meal prep, and cleanup is a breeze! Having low sodium meals delivered is a sure way to meet your nutritional needs, as the meals are created specifically with a low sodium diet and cardiac diet in mind. Full flavor and a perfect nutritional profile are just one simple step away!

If you'd like more information about low sodium diets, read this article.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

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Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Cardiac Diet, Heart Disease, Sodium

Q&A about Salt and Low Sodium Meals for the Elderly

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jul 30, 2015 1:52:00 PM

low-sodium-mealsNine out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium. Too much sodium is a health concern for all ages, but particularly for older Americans. Kidney function declines with age, so seniors have a more difficult time removing excess sodium from their bodies.  While the body needs an adequate amount of sodium to function, too much sodium can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.  

How much sodium should seniors consume?

Both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that seniors consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. 1,500 mg is equivalent to just 2/3 teaspoon of salt, so meeting this recommendation and finding low sodium meals can be a challenge.  

Where is sodium hiding?

Most of the sodium in meals for the elderly comes from added salt (sodium chloride), either during food preparation or at the table. In addition, seniors frequently eat canned and frozen convenience meals purchased from the grocery store or a food delivery company that is not focused on senior nutrition. Restaurant meals and frozen meals made by mass market producers tend to be loaded with sodium and should only be consumed in a limited amount.

Where can seniors find convenient yet healthy meals?

Many senior centers have nutrition programs that offer congregate meals. These meals are typically funded by the Older Americans' Act and are required to meet low sodium meal guidelines. If you or your loved one is able to travel, these centers often also offer classes, activities, and services designed specifically for older adults. Some centers request a nominal donation for meals.  Many of the centers and other programs, like Meals on Wheels, provide home delivered meals which also meet the same low sodium requirements.  To find a center, go to www.Eldercare.gov.

GA Foods is a provider of SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable (canned or non-refrigerated "pantry") meal delivery for many senior programs.  Not only are SunMeadow® meals low in sodium, they are also appropriate for those needing a healthy heart diet, diabetic diet meal plan, or diet for kidney disease. Not all food delivery companies are the same; many do not cater to the specific health needs of seniors. Be sure that you or the senior in your life consumes meals that are designed specifically for the special needs of seniors to avoid excessive sodium and ensure adequate nutrient content.

For more information about the nutritional content of SunMeadow® meals, click the image below:

Download Nutritional Information and Product Specifications

 

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Cardiac Diet, Sodium

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