How old would you be, if you had no idea how old you really were?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NO Salt or LOW Salt

A lady in a white coat caught my attention. I was only a few days out from an open-heart surgery that almost did me in. I was out cold for three days after the surgery, and it was 30 days before I escaped from the hospital. So when she told me that patients who took their medicine and limited their sodium intake tended to stay alive longer, I listened.

So I went home and tried to avoid eating or drinking anything with sodium. And of course nothing tasted right. I tried to cook with absolutely no salt and the results were just awful. But now, a couple of years later, the low salt restriction has become a little easier to live with. That is due in part to getting used to less salty foods and to finally realizing that 2000 mg of salt per day means low salt not no salt.

Cook up a pot of pinto beans with out salt and the result is tough to swallow. But when you add a little salt then the beans began to taste like something you might want to eat. How much salt? Estimate the number of servings in the pot. Eight servings? OK. What if each serving had 300 mg of sodium? 8 X 300 = 2400 mg, or one teaspoon of salt. That will work and the beans start to taste sorta like the ones mom used to make.

We bake most of our own bread now. A half teaspoon of salt per loaf means that if you get twelve slices from the loaf, you are looking at 100 mg of sodium per slice. Not bad, when every loaf you can buy off the shelf at Safeway has 180 to 300+. And the bread we bake, particulary the no-knead is really good.

I’ve also found that I can eat potato chips, and tortilla chips, if, I shop carefully and limit the amount I consume. Chips range in sodium content from 80 mg per ounce to 300 and more mg per ounce with some brands of chips topping out near 500 mg per ounce. Go for the low numbers and enjoy them chip by chip. Don’t inhale them. A small kitchen scale will really help you to know how many ounces of chips, or cheese you are eating, and will keep you honest in your estimate of a one ounce serving.

So I am gradually finding ways to eat and stay within the very stingy salt restriction 2000mg/day and at the same time enjoying what I eat. A little moderation goes a long way.

Friday, March 9, 2007

BBQ Shrimp with a Corn Relish- Low Sodium

My oh my, you are gonna like this one, a low sodium recipe fancy and tasty enough for company. (580 mg sodium per serving - 2 generous servings)

You'll have to do a little preparation, but it's easy and fun. You'll feel like you are getting ready for your own TV cooking show. It combines a corn relish we are going to mix up with some awesome "barbecued" shrimp. Here we go. Three basic steps.

Mix up the corn relish

For the corn relish you need.
  • 2 C of frozen corn
  • 1/4 C chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/8 C chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small white onion chopped
  • 1 t chili flakes
  • 1/4 C low sodium chicken stock (less than 500 mg sodium per cup)
  • 1 T Worcester sauce
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • Cajun Spice (Spice Hunter Cajun Creole Seasoning - salt free)
Heat a large non-stick skillet. Add the frozen corn and the pepper to the dry skillet and roast them until the corn just barely begins to brown. When the corn and pepper are barely roasted dump then into a bowl, add the rest of the relish ingredients, sprinkle with the Cajun spice to taste, and mix. Set aside to marinate while we prepare a roux and saute our shrimp.

Prepare a roux

Easy now, a roux is simple, and we need it for a thickening when we put this very cool dish together.
  • Melt 1 T unsalted butter over medium heat in a small sauté pan
  • When the butter is melted gradually stir in 1 T white flour, continuing stirring and heat slowly until the mixture turns a nice golden color.
  • Take the pan off the heat and set it aside.
Sauté the shrimp
I use raw, frozen, tail on shrimp that I buy at Costco. These are medium sized. (31-40 count per pound) Watch the sodium content on shrimp as it can be high. The ones I use have 280 mg of sodium per serving (about 9 shrimp).

You will need
  • About 18 shrimp, thawed and patted dry
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T (or more) minced garlic (you can buy it already minced in a jar)
  • 1/4 C chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 1 T Worcester sauce
  • Cajun Spice
Melt the butter, oil, and garlic together. When the skillet is hot and you can smell the garlic, add the shrimp and sauté quickly, less than a minute per side. Add a little oil if necessary. Sprinkle generously with the Cajun spice, add the Worcester sauce and chicken sauce and sauté until everything is hot.

Combine and Serve
Add the corn relish to the skillet and heat. Scrape the roux into the relish and shrimp mixture and stir until it is mixed in. Heat just long enough to thicken and your are ready to serve up an awesome dish.
This is recipe adapted from a TV cooking show where the chef magically sprinkles the ingredients without obviously measuring and puts the whole thing together in about 5 TV minutes. I could not find an actual recipe so the measurements here are my approximations. Feel free to wing it and adjust according to your own tastes. The original dish is a creation of Chef Brett Maddock at Arnold Palmer’s restaurant in La Quinta, California.