The USDA says that we, as Americans, are blowing our diets right out of the water when it comes to overdoing sodium content. I scant tsp of salt provides around 2300 mg of sodium – that’s 600 mg above the recommended amount for an adult 51 or older (which I am and, let’s get this straight – this is all about ME and, well, my momma who is 94). As I was saying, 1500 mg of sodium a day is the recommended amount for adults 51 or older, African Americans (who have incidence of blood pressure and heart disease that Whites) and anyone with renal or heart conditions.
Studies show that the average American eats over 4000mg of sodium each day. Increased sodium in diets is directly linked to heart and renal disease and, of course, high blood pressure.
Mom’s doctor just prescribed a diet of 1800mg of sodium a day – this followed a, thankfully, quick trip to the ER last week when Mom couldn’t catch her breath and her feet swelled up. So, I had inadvertently blown up my momma by having her sit in the dining room with dinner guests for a few hours and fed her, what I now know, is a LOT of sodium at dinner. Shoot….
Anyway, in a mild panic, I hit the supermarket and started reading labels. Little did I realize that some of my Mom’s favorite foods were actually horrible for her. So, I devised a plan to stop this madness and get back to nature – namely, herbs!
I already have a nicely established herb garden but I decided to enlarge it for more variety. So, I headed off to the local nursery where I purchased the following:
- Basils – red, thai, bush, Genovese (the typical green basil), purple, ruffled and lemon. All of these basils make delicious additions to any cooked dish but they must be added after the food is taken off the heat – basil totally dissipates and is flavorless when added too early. Try basil on top of ripe tomatoes and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a sodium free dish.
- Parsley – curly and italian flat leaf. I love parsley as a garnish for about anything. You can also grind up parsley and a bit of garlic and coat a fresh chicken before tossing in the oven.
- Thyme – lemon, golden, and redstart. Thyme is a pungent herb and works best for chicken and pork dishes. I make delicious low sodium baby back ribs by adding thyme, rosemary and sage to orange juice, vinegar and water. Allow to boil and cool. Cover the parboiled ribs and leave in the fridge 2 days. Turn every 12 hours. So delicious!
- Rosemary – and lots of it! I live in Maryland so our rosemary doesn’t winter. We’re very lucky if it comes back even once in 10 years but it rarely does so, every year, I go spend a small fortune on the stuff. If you live in Arizona, take advantage of the climate and plant a rosemary hedge. The smell is just devine. I use rosemary in cooked dishes such as baked chicken (insert sprigs under the skin) or tomato sauce. Rosemary twigs also make nice spears for kabobs on the grill.
So, as you can see from this brief article, cooking and eating a low sodium diet just takes a bit of planning and some ingenuity. Now, stop reading and go to the kitchen!