Reduction of  salt (sodium) in cooking is a huge challenge.  It  means reading ALL labels and comparing just how much sodium is in foods.  In addition you have to be aware of the fat content and sugar content in foods as well.  For those of us who want, or NEED, to reduce sodium, that is the first of the offending items on which to check.  If it doesn’t fall below an acceptable level, then it is not used, either “as is” or as a major ingredient in the recipe.  There are a couple of exceptions, i.e., use of small amounts of soy sauce, as there is just no other way to get that flavor, but you can use the low sodium version and reduce the amount by about half.

As far as use of canned foods, you’d best avoid them. If you do need to use them BUY “NO SALT ADDED” varieties. Better yet, for recipes calling for canned beans (kidney beans, string/green beans, corn, etc. you should use either frozen or fresh, cooked without salt), or in the case of beans, cook them from dried beans, no salt (if you use a pressure cooker this can be done more rapidly and in a batch large enough to freeze the excess in containers equal in volume to 1 can  or 2 cans).

For recipes calling for canned soups, like cream of mushroom or cream of chicken, you’ll need to make your own thickening base making a roux, adding milk to make a cream sauce/thickening agent.  Flavor it with sodium free bouillon, chicken or beef,  and other spices as appropriate for the recipe you are making.

A word about substitutes for salt.  As a rule, salt substitutes do NOT taste very good.  Also they have some negative effects on health for some medical diagnoses (see the listing about salt substitutes under the Spices section of “What, How, & Why”).   The best option is to use other seasonings like “Mrs. Dash” or generic versions of salt-free vegetable and spice seasonings.   I have found that adding chili to most foods masks the lack of salt nicely.  I keep a 4″  “shaker jar” of crushed dried red chili on my stove top and use it in most of my recipes (no, not the desserts!).   If you do not like spicy food you will find using just a small amount of chili will help tremendously in masking the lack of salt.  As you get accustomed to the “heat” you will find that chili has a great deal of flavor as well and you may find yourself adding a little more to your food.  Also “ethnic” foods that are highly spiced are able to taste very good without salt, like Indian foods, Asian foods, and Mexican foods. Be careful, though, because prepared versions of all of these foods contain LOTS of sodium!

There are many more techniques with details and notes that will be posted later about methods of cooking, storing, and seasoning the foods.  Also to be discussed will be the options for substitutions  and reduced amounts of called-for ingredients in recipes, and where and how to buy various products.


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