The Hippy Hippy Shake – Cutting the Salt

July 28th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We have all heard the term “old habits die hard”, haven’t we? There is now a movement by a number of governments around the world to inform and help consumers to reduce the salt in their diets. For me, like for many, seasoning with salt is a cooking way of life. Like many, my initial reaction was that it’s everybody else’s problem but mine. After all I’m a dietitian, right? Wrong!! In reality, it’s likened to  George Castanza’s line “It’s not you it’s me!” Actually, it’s everybody’s…mostly. Well I swallowed the hard truth tablet on this one and realized I needed to change my ways. Yes old habits do die hard, but die they will with a pinch of effort.

Take Stock

For me the first step was making a mental note of the foods I was bringing in the house. The best way to do this is to take out those reading glasses and read the food product label nutrition facts table. Next I took stock of my cooking habits. And yes, the Hippy-Hippy Shake of the salt shaker was ingrained in my cooking robot and needed to dance it’s way out.

Recondition Your Palate

The next thing I tried was to use less gradually. What this does is help retrain your palate to get used to using less. If old habits die hard for me, they surely do for hubby boy, Yoda-Man who LOVES his food to the max. The last thing I wanted at home was a line-up at the complaints department desk, if you catch my drift!!

Small Changes Mean A Lot

What I’ve also tried is a number of strategies to change things up with food preparation:

  • Use a salt shaker with really small holes, when I use the salt shaker
  • No longer put the salt shaker on the table when we eat
  • Put the pepper mill on the table when dining, instead (ours is the size of a hockey stick!!)
  • Try a greater variety of garden herbs when cooking – basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, ginger
  • Use paprika or cinnamon for a different flavour while using less salt in cooking
  • Add lemon or orange juice or the zest (grated peel) to pump up the flavor of various recipes
  • When available, use products with a lower sodium content to replace a higher salt ones
  • Try garlic and herbs in place of meat rubs for bar-be-queing
  • Rinse canned vegetables before using
  • Use fresh or frozen veggies and fruits instead of canned when possible
  • Try unsalted versions of foods – crackers, pretzels, nuts, trail mix
  • Create your own salad dressings easily with oil and balsamic vinegar (see post on June 23)
  • Prepare larger portions of meat for dinner and use the leftovers for sandwiches in place of using cold cuts in sandwiches
  • If I do use cold cuts, try the extra piquante (spicy hot) and use a smaller amount
  • If you choose to eat out, look up the menu and offerings on-line and decide on better choices before you go

The statistics show that we really do take in so much more sodium than we need. It’s simply staggering. This also holds true for kids of all ages, even toddlers. Trust me on this one folks. So making small regular changes can make a vast difference over time. Once your taste buds get used to having less salt it’s a snap to stick with. The May 19 post addresses this topic as well.

Do weigh in on strategies you use so we can all learn from each other.

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