Low Sodium Cooking - Issue 13, Number 2 - Special Guest - Sodium Girl!
This week's recipes:
- Chicken Wraps With Plum Sauce
- Quick Chai Tea Cookies
- A Classic Bloody Mary
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone who may have an
Hello to all our regulars and welcome to the new subscribers.
I have a special treat for you today, as we turn the newsletter over to
someone who's been making news in the low-sodium area. As you might
recall from the Resources page on the website one of my favorite low
sodium food sites is www.sodiumgirl.com, a low-sodium blog full of great
recipes created by Jessica Goldman Foung.
For those of you who aren't familiar with her, Jessica is a 30-year-old
freelance writer, born and raised in the Bay Area. After a severe case of
Lupus attacked her kidneys and brain, Jessica decided to use her medical
challenges as the muse of her career.
In 2009, she began the blog www.sodiumgirl.com to capture her adventures
in living a low-sodium life. Since then, Sodium Girl has been nominated
as one of Saveur's "Best Food Blogs" in 2012. Jessica recently spoke at
BlogHerFood 2012 and has appeared on several local news channels as a
low-sodium expert. She has written about low-sodium diets for the San
Francisco Chronicle, Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Day (February 2013),
Shape (January/February 2013), Living Without magazine, Arthritis Today
magazine, CivilEats.com, Examiner.com, the Lupus Foundation of America,
Alliance for Lupus Research, and Stanford Hospital. And she is currently
partnering with the National Kidney Foundation, blogging for Huffington
Post Living, and offering low-sodium cooking classes at Whole Foods
Now Jessica has her own cookbook available, Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-
Sodium Cookbook. I just received my copy a couple of days ago and I'm
still busy digesting it (and the great food). But I can tell you that it
is both beautiful, on glossy, heavy paper with lots of taste-tempting
photos by Matt Armendariz, as well as full of information that every low-
sodium person can use. To start with there are over 100 recipes, all the
kind of creative things that anyone familiar with the Sodium Girl blog
would expect, from basics like Butter Rolls to Asian Char Sui Spare Ribs.
There is also a ton of information on things like removing sodium from
your favorite recipes or maintaining a low sodium diet while traveling
(everything from restaurants to airports to college dining halls).
To celebrate her cookbook we've turned this issue of the Low Sodium
Cooking newsletter over to Jessica. She's included recipes from the book
(along with the incredible pictures) and some tips on adding flavor to
foods without using salt.
But enough talking from me, on to Jessica.
Skip the Salt, Find the Flavor
Jessica Goldman Foung
We have a serious crisis in this country that needs to be addressed:
endangered spices. I'm talking about grocery store aisles and kitchen
racks full of exotic seeds and nuts, colorful powders, and tantalizing
smells that, thanks to the over-use of salt and its misrepresentation as
the only flavor maker, sit forgotten and unused.
But you can do something about it. Today. Due to your low-sodium diet,
you can save these spices. You can put them to use. You can explore new
cultures and cuisines with a dash, a teaspoon, and a pinch of cumin,
curry, and coriander. By giving salt time off, you put these
underutilized spices back to work. Not to mention your oven and slow
cooker, those (dusty) inherited plates of china, and even that alien-
looking vegetable that you never dared try before. Until now.
So while salt is an undisputed flavor enhancer, use these ingredients,
tools, tricks and, of course, spices to replicate all of salt's taste-
making powers without a single grain of it.
SPICES, HERBS, VINEGARS, AND OILS
Salt is a wonderful flavor enhancer. But thank goodness, it isn't the
only one. Far from it actually. From paprika to curry to cumin, the world
of spices will give even simple meals (like roasted chicken or sauteed
vegetables) an interesting bite. And don't forget about flavored
vinegars, flavored oils, and fresh and dried herbs -- keeping these
kitchen staples around will enable even plain pasta to play a starring
role on the table.
But remember: check labels. Even spices, oils, and vinegars can contain
salt or seasoning. Buy only items marked no-salt-added or contain zero mg
You know how a squeeze of lemon brightens up a glass of water? Just
imagine what it might do over your next salad, cup of rice, or even bowl
of soup. Like salt, a squeeze of citrus helps awaken other flavors in a
dish. And because a few wedges of lime or lemon are easy to find when
eating out, it makes a satisfying swap for salty dressings or sauces. So
whether you use the zest, the juice, or both, reach for the citrus (not
the salt) when your palate needs that extra kick.
The more you can surprise yourself and your palate, the less you'll miss
the salt. So when making meals at home, take creative liberties with
recipes and add uncommon ingredients into the mix. To avoid higher-sodium
items, make a pasta sauce with pureed pumpkin. Use jams instead of steak
sauce. Toss salads with juicy berries instead of dressing. And be swept
away by the surprising, low-sodium combinations.
COLOR AND FEEL
As the adage goes, you eat as much with your eyes as your mouth. Meaning
the look of your meal can be just as important as what you put it in. So
don't shy away from bright colored plates or bright ingredients. And mix
up textures as well, putting creamy and crunchy together. The more there
is to see and feel, the less you'll look for the salt.
OVENS, GRILLS, AND SLOW ROASTERS
Not all flavor comes in a bottle. You can actually create a super tasty
meal with just your ingredients and an oven, a grill, or a slow roaster.
These cooking tools help coax the natural sweetness and savory tastes
from whole foods -- meats and vegetables alike. And a grill will even
lend a savory, smoky flavor to your ingredients. So switch things up by
letting your meals stew, smoke, and simmer.
SALT AND UMAMI
There are five essential tastes in cooking: sweet, sour, bitter, salty,
and umami. And most people rightly believe that the last two only come
from the shaker or bottles of salty Asian sauces, like Teriyaki and soy.
But here's the awesome new: they actually exist in whole ingredients.
Yes, it's true.
As you most likely know, most vegetables, meats, and even some fruit
contain sodium, naturally. So use ingredients like celery, carrots,
beets, and meats to give dishes like stews, soups, and even drinks (like
homemade Bloody Marys) a 'salty' kick. As for umami, look no further than
tomatoes, mushrooms, and Chinese cabbage. And when a recipes calls for
soy sauce, put these produce aisle powerhouses to work.
For more outrageously delicious recipes check out www.sodiumgirl.com or
Jessica's new book, Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook available
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and
everywhere books are sold.
Chicken Wraps With Plum Sauce
Plum sauce was one of my first low-sodium cooking coups. The kind you buy
in the store often has 140mg of sodium per tablespoon. But I thought,
maybe, if I mixed plum jam with ginger and unseasoned rice vinegar, I
could make a passable substitute. Somehow, it worked. And if you cannot
find plum jam, you can use any dark berry jam in its place.
The whole meal is very simple to put together and the deep purple sauce
against the orange carrot sticks and bright green lettuce cups is
pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate. This is a great family-
style dish that cooks up quickly and will wow your guests too. Leftovers
are great cold the next day for lunch; just reheat the sauce.
6 garlic cloves, smashed in a garlic press
2 1/2 tablespoons (2 to 2 1/2-inch piece)peeled and diced fresh ginger
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup plum or dark berry jam
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 green onions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken meat (I like using half thigh, half breast
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Red chili pepper flakes
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and diced
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
2 heads butter lettuce, washed
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add three-quarters of the smashed
garlic, 11/2 tablespoons of the ginger, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil
and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the jam, brown sugar, and
rice vinegar. Whisk until smooth and then cook, covered, over very low
heat for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking, reducing the
liquid, for 10 minutes. Then cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to
very low, to keep the sauce warm while you prepare the rest of the
In a wok or large skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil over
medium-high heat. Add the remaining ginger and garlic, and the white
parts of the green onions. Cook, stirring, until the ginger takes on a
golden brown hue, about 5 minutes. Then add the chicken and cook, using
your spoon to break the meat apart, until it turns white, about 10
minutes. Add the mustard powder, white pepper, cloves, and chili flakes
to taste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the water chestnuts, carrots, and
the sliced green tops of the green onion, and stir a few times to
combine. Remove from the heat and toss with a third of the sauce.
Serve the chicken warm or cold, scooping it into the leaves of the butter
lettuce and topping with extra dollops of the plum sauce. After that,
it's a wrap.
Ground chicken: 67mg per 4 ounces; Water chestnuts: 5 to 25mg per serving
depending on brand; Carrot: 42mg per medium carrot; Lettuce: 9mg per 4
Quick Chai Tea Cookies
Sometimes, at the end of a day, you just crave a cookie fix without the
effort. You want to dip your hand into a box of goodies, nibble on a
couple of chocolate treats, and call it a night, without having to stir,
whisk, or clean a single pan. But most premade cookies and cookie dough
are high in sodium, and so sweet-tooth emergencies require making batter
Don't panic, though, because I've come up with a recipe that is quick to
make and salt-free. It requires minimal mixing and measuring, and you
will have a batch of spicy treats ready before you even have time to
change into your evening comfies.
Now, I have to confess: these cookies were supposed to be meringues. But
I could never get the egg whites to peak right, and I kept opening my
oven to find puddles of sugar, not swirls of crisp meringues. So I moved
to macaroons, which brought about an equal set of mishaps and misshapen
mounds of coconut.
Finally, my good friend (thanks, Kat) taught me how to make foolproof
coconut cookies that cook up in a flash. I added some chai tea and
pumpkin seeds, and with some help from another good pal, parchment paper,
we had gooey, crunchy, aromatic cookie clusters that even I could bake.
The parchment paper also keeps cleanup to a minimum. And if your first
batch does end up crumbling, don't throw those cookies away. Use them as
a topper for low-sodium, soy, or coconut ice cream.
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup no-salt-added pumpkin seeds
1 large egg white, beaten
1 teaspoon chai tea (or 1 tea bag)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Makes 12 cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix together with your
hands, making sure it is well combined. Take small handfuls of your
cookie mix and squeeze to remove as much of the egg liquid as possible.
Add an extra 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds and 1/4 cup of coconut if it seems
too runny. Place the cookies in mounds on the parchment-lined baking
sheet. Repeat until all the cookie mix is used. Each cookie should be
about 1 teaspoon of the batter.
Bake the cookies until they turn a toasted brown color and are firm to
the touch, 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on
the sheet. When they are hard enough that you can peel them from the
parchment, snack away.
Raw coconut: 0 to 15mg 1 per cup depending on brand
Pumpkin seeds: 5mg per 1/4 cup
Egg white: 55mg per large egg
A Classic Bloody Mary
Bloodies are usually made with prepared vegetable juice, Tabasco,
Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, pepper, and lemon. Bottled low-sodium
tomato and vegetable juice can run as high as 170mg of sodium per cup,
and Tabasco and Worcestershire can add another 200mg to the total with
just a few dashes of each. But it is entirely possible to create the same
tastes without these products. By using fresh or even prepared tomato
puree, fresh or prepared horseradish, some homemade veggie juice, and
spices, you can create a Bloody mix that doesn't miss the mark. Actually,
you'll be able to taste the individual ingredients, the pucker and the
spice, better than in the drinks made with those salted mixes.
And while using a juicer makes prep much easier, it isn't necessary to go
out and buy one. You can get silky-smooth juice by blending your
vegetables and running them through a strainer or cheesecloth. Also,
don't be afraid to be creative with your presentation. The preparation
below is classic. But if you have salt-free pickled grapes, cherry
tomatoes, or green beans lying around, throw them in, for heaven's sake.
And instead of rimming the glasses with salt, spackle the tops with a
blend of freshly ground black pepper, paprika, and lemon zest for color
and extra spice.
Makes 10 cups Bloody Mary
4 large celery stalks, with extra stems for garnish
2 small red beets, trimmed and peeled
11/2 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
4 cups no-salt-added tomato puree 1 (24-ounce jar has a little more than
3 cups, so you can always fill the jar with 1 cup water and shake to
leftover tomato puree to make 4 cups)
1 to 2 teaspoons prepared low-sodium horseradish
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Ice, for garnish
If you are using a juicer, juice the celery, beets, and bell pepper.
Place the liquid into a pitcher or large mixing bowl and add the tomato
If you are using a blender, put the celery, beets, bell pepper, and
tomato puree into a blender. Pulse until you have a vegetable smoothie.
Then make a sturdy pouch out of some folded cheesecloth and, over a
pitcher or a large bowl, carefully pour the blended veggies into it.
Gather the cheesecloth at the top to close and then squeeze. Really
squeeze, many times, until all the juice runs out of the cheesecloth and
all you have left inside is dry veggie pulp. If you don't have
cheesecloth, you can also pour the veggie smoothie into a fine-mesh
sieve and use a wooden spoon or the bottom of a ladle to press down on
the puree, squeezing the juice through until you have strained every bit
into the pitcher or bowl. Set all your vegetable scraps aside.
Now that you have your vegetable juice, add 1 teaspoon of the
horseradish, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the smoked paprika, cayenne,
juice of 1 lemon, and vinegar to the pitcher or bowl. Whisk together and
taste, adjusting the spices (oh hello, horseradish and pepper) according
to your cocktail preferences. I like mine spicy!
Place the Bloody Mary mixture in the refrigerator to chill, 15 minutes
minimum or 2 hours maximum.
When you're ready to serve, fill glasses with ice. Pour in Bloody Mary
mixture and add a celery stalk for garnish. Cut the remaining lemon into
wedges and offer them to guests as well for extra citrus punch. Finally,
stir, sip, and savor.
Quote of the Week
Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'
- Robin Williams
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and posted on LowSodiumCooking.com are provided "as is". While I make
every effort to ensure accuracy, I cannot guarantee nor make any claims
that the nutritional values, where provided, are accurate or that each
recipe is appropriate for everyone.
In no event shall LowSodiumCooking.com be liable for damages of any kind,
due to the use of recipes and information provided in this newsletter or
on the website.
It is your responsibility to decide if the recipes and information are
suitable for your personal diet. When in doubt please seek the advice of
your physician or health care provider.