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 Basic Low-Sodium Cooking Tips

Basic Low-Sodium Cooking Tips
Jon C -
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No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Light Meals Book
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American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Reducing Sodium and Fat in Your Diet
Low Sodium Meals : Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Instead of buying "low sodium" canned goods, buy the ones called "No Salt Added." There's a lot less sodium in the "No Salt Added" canned goods. They are usually right next to the regular canned goods. Rinse all canned foods thoroughly before using (after taking them out of the can).
  • garlic cloveGarlic is your friend! When you sauté at fairly high heat, add garlic to the skillet for only one minute before reducing the heat. Frying garlic longer than one minute makes it bitter. However, when roasting or stewing, garlic mellows beautifully. In these type dishes, cook it as long as you want.
         To get the skin off a garlic clove, lay a broad-bladed knife on its side on top of the clove and smash the sucker with the heel of one hand (hold the knife handle firmly with the other hand so it doesn't slip and cut you). The skin will then slide right off the clove and you can proceed to mince it, press it, or whatever. Keep your hands wet when working with garlic and it won't stick to you.
  • Simmer does not mean boil! Simmer is the setting just below the amount of heat that causes a slow boil.
  • Pasta and fish are usually overcooked. When fish flakes easily with a fork, stop cooking it immediately. If either of these items are to be baked in a dish after they are cooked, undercook them slightly in the first cooking step.
  • Buy a pepper mill. They're cheap and make a world of difference to flavor. Peppercorns can be found in the grocery store's spice section.
  • There are red, green and yellow bell peppers. They taste different. In my area the red and yellow ones are expensive so I mostly use green peppers, but if I need a really sweet flavored pepper, I will use a red bell pepper instead. 
  • Use dry beans! They are cheap and very low in sodium. Here's the easy way to cook dry beans:
    1. get a pot of water boiling, put in the dry beans, and bring the water back to a boil;
    2. boil 2 minutes and then take the pan off the heat;
    3. let sit on the counter one hour (on a hot pad or trivet);
    4. drain them, rinse them, and throw them back in the pot;
    5. cover with water and simmer for 30 to 90 minutes;
    6. check for doneness by eating one.
    Note: If you're going to further cook the cooked beans with other ingredients later, undercook them a bit now.
  • Diet tuna has less sodium in it than low sodium tuna. Go figure. I try to find it because it's extremely low in sodium.
  • An electric steamer is a good investment. Fish and vegetables can be cooked quickly, easily and with almost no loss of flavor or nutrients this way - quickly and easily. They get a nice bright color too.
  • Some of my recipes call for cheese. No matter how you slice it, cheese is loaded with sodium and fat. If you are severely restricted, you may have to skip those recipes. Some people tell me that's cheese is pretty good, though. Also, real Mozzarella is made without salt and is low in sodium, and Swiss cheese is usually fairly low in sodium.
  • When a recipe calls for dried bread crumbs, try using dry oats instead. They are tasty - a low sodium filler for meatloafs, meatballs and such.
  • Some foods, like broccoli stems (not the flowerlets), should be "blanched" before cooking. Just put them in a pot of rapidly boiling water and boil them hard for just 3 to 4 minutes to semi-cook them. Then they will be tender after adding them to the other ingredients and completing the cooking. If you dunk them in ice water immediately after blanching, they get a tremendously bright color as well.
  • Always crush herbs between the palms of your hands before adding them to your dish, to release their full flavor and aroma.
  • When using a wok to stir fry, always keep the stove burner on its very highest setting at all times and keep that food moving!
  • Try unsalted nacho chips. There are some great "No Salt Added" chips available now.
  • hot stuff!Hot peppers! They are the ultimate salt substitute, cheap and easy to find. Jalapenos are mild; serranos are hotter; cayennes and bird (Thai) peppers are hotter still; with habaneros (or Scotch Bonnets) the hottest. Start by throwing away the seeds and mincing the peppers to use in recipes. Later, try using the seeds too. One warning: I'm not kidding - habaneros are hot!

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