Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Low Sodium Pantry: Introduction

Your pantry is your most formidable weapon in the Low Sodium Battle. Just removing salt from favorite recipes is not enough. Let’s face facts: Salt makes food taste good. So if you’re going to lower the salt content in food, you’ve got to be prepared to use your imagination, to experiment, and to come up with tasty alternative seasonings.

There is nothing intrinsically evil about salt. Even the Lord recognized its importance when He told His followers, “You are the salt of the earth...” It has been used for thousands of years as a preservative and seasoning. Hams, sausages, cheeses, anchovies, pickles, sauerkraut – all these salted foods and more have been mankind’s way of preserving the earth’s bounty.

Perfectly seasoned food is NOT salty. However, the last fifty years or so has seen an explosion of packaged, processed, and prepared foods in the grocery stores and of fast food restaurants near our homes. We are accosted by overly salty food everywhere we turn, and many people are unable to overcome the salt shaker habit.

In my Greek family, we never had a salt shaker at the table. My mom was a good cook, and everything she made was well-seasoned. Lots of tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, & spices. I never encountered the salt shaker habit first hand until I was in college. I was with a bunch of friends at a local restaurant. One of the fellows ordered a typical American breakfast – eggs, hash browns, & sausage. I looked on in absolute horror as he sprinkled everything on his plate with a white layer of salt. Then came the black/grey layer of ground pepper followed by a layer of bright red ketchup. He cut everything up and started to eat. I was aghast! Since then I’ve noticed people in Chinese restaurants salting chow mein and fried rice or in Italian restaurants salting spaghetti and lasagna. Salt on enchiladas and salsa; salt on a chef’s salad; salt on pizza; salt on already salt-laden French fries. It boggles the mind!

So, considering our national addiction to overly salted foods, it’s no wonder that staying on a low sodium diet is difficult for many. Serving grilled chicken sprinkled with Mrs. Dash every night is not enough incentive. That’s why having a well stocked pantry is so essential. It’s your arsenal in the Low Sodium Battle.

My goal is to cover what I consider essential pantry items for good tasting low sodium cooking. I will try to discuss how the items can be used and to include some brand names and shopping sources. Obviously, I can’t discuss everything in one post, so there will be several parts.


OhioMom said...

I have always said that I do not want my first bite of food to taste like "salt" ... cool post looking forward to the rest.

Love your new look :)

shambo said...

I totally agree with you. I really think that initial burst of salt is an acquired and addictive habit. I'd much rather have the food I'm eating nicely seasoned during cooking than have to resort to sprinkling a layer of salt on it.

giz said...

Once people stop oversalting or stop eating so much sugar and wean away from it, it's amazing how unpalatable salt and sugar really become. Once you know the magic, cooking without or less salt and enhancing with more herbs just seems to make so much sense.