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Going out to eat while on Low Sodium diet...

shaun
10 years ago

This is sort of a spin off on the thread started by johnliu titled "Eating On Business Trips"

I am now on a low sodium diet due to high blood pressure and I'm having a very hard time finding restaurants to accommodate me.

Granted I'm not going to 5 star restaurants where I know they will do this, but the normal places, like Chili's or Carabbas, Outback,or neighborhood sports bars.

One of my favorite things to do it go out to eat, doesnt matter which meal it is; breakfast, lunch or dinner; I love going out to eat.

So this is really bothering me. I feel like I'm in my own private hell now because I have to cook ALL THE TIME now in order to be sure I am eating a low sodium meal. We aren't going out because the few times we've tried, I can't get it my way.

I guess there is no other answer besides stay home and cook it myself.

Anyone else in this predicament?

Comments (85)

  • elisamcs
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun: I have the same problem, but I found that if I really increase my water intake A LOT, then the problem is minimized. Even if I'm not eating out, the increase of water is really helpful keeping the BP in a reasonable range.

  • mudlady_gw
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    It's likely you have already been told, but just in case--cheese is usually very high sodium.

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  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thank you elisamcs I've been drinking Oatmeal water a lot! You pour a bunch of oatmeal into a pitcher and add water. Let it settle and then you just drink the water..... when it's gone, add more water to the same oats. Not sure how long you can use the same oats but I'm on my 2nd pitcher and it's not bad. Supposed to be good for cholesterol, if you have that problem too. And I've been drinking 100% coconut water. Look up the health benefits of coconut water!

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  • ritaotay
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    For what it's worth.... Four oz. of tomato's only contain 10 mg of sodium... One egg white has 50 mg and one tablespoon of regular soy sauce has a whopping 1,029 mg... And watch out for that lite salt, some of them add potassium which interferes with blood pressure meds... ( Pssst, whole grain breads contain a lot more sodium than mushy white breads. )

    When hubby broke his hip and the doctors decided he had to take meds for his high blood pressure and high cholesterol I went nuts measuring everything he ate or drank, I mean EVERYTHING.... I had him down to less than 900 mg of sodium and less than 20 grams of fats a day....

    For him it was a BIG mistake.... His cholesterol shot way up and his BP went down, way down, the first number was in the high 70's to low 80's.... Cut the fats too much and your body makes a lot more cholesterol... Cutting his sodium while he was taking the BP meds made his BP take a dive...

    Long story short... The doctor refuses to reduce his meds... I now let hubby eat anything he wants, we go out to eat, anywhere he wants ( including Golden Corral ( yuck ) ), 3 or 4 times a week and his BP never goes over 107 and his cholesterol is within normal limits.

    As the saying goes, Results may vary... lol

    Rita

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    rita, that's funny you wrote this post. Last night I was thinking, as much salt as I used to use in cooking and then on my plate,not to mention the salty foods I used to eat ...... I wondered what will happen now that I'm on meds for it and eating so little sodium?

    I'm monitoring it 3 x a day. Keeping a log for now because my Physicians Assistant calls me every 3 days or so to see what the numbers are. She is supposed to call today.

    I hope I never go back to eating all that sodium. The numbers I'm seeing in foods is alarming to me.

  • foodonastump
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Rita - That's interesting about the lowfat diet causing a cholesterol spike. I know the effect of diet on cholesterol is fuzzy and varies from person to person, but this is the first time I've heard of a negative effect.

    What sounds really odd to me is the doctor refusing to lower BP meds when you were obviously able to lower it so much with diet. My cardiologist is constantly after me about diet and exercise, telling me that with a bit of effort I could get down to one low dosage pill if not off meds altogether. I can't imagine that not being every doctor's goal and unless there's more to the story I'd be looking for a new doctor, or at minimum a second opinion.

    Shaun - Trust me (and others) you'll get over the salt. Soon you'll notice how salty most restaurant food is, esp bar food and chains, and just the thought of going to a salt mine like Outback will turn you off completely.

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    FOAS I'm looking forward to that day.

  • ritaotay
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    FOAS, your body makes cholesterol and in hubby's case when I cut his fat intake so drastically his body went into overdrive producing much more than he needed... As for his doctor, we've been battling since day one ( since he held up his hand and told me he'd rather hear from hubby and this was AFTER the doctor said hubby had dementia !!! ) Anyway, there is a bit more to it, everyone in hubby's family has White Coat Syndrome ( their BP goes up as soon as they see a doctor and with hubby you can actually see it go up, the center of his forehead starts turning red just above his eyebrows and when it reached where his hairline should be you could bet it was over 200 )... Naturally his doctor doesn't believe there is such a thing as White Coat Syndrome, even after I pointed out that when the 'nurse' takes hubby's BP it's in the 90's and when he takes it it's always in the 100's.... Subsequently doc says hubby's BP is where it should be... As for changing doctors, as soon as I can find one who speaks English that I can understand... ( sigh )

    Sorry Shaun, didn't mean to hog your post... As for finding low sodium food at a restaurant, you got your plain salads ( no cheese or meat ) and fruit plates... That is, unless they pass that law limiting salt.

    Rita

  • foodonastump
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Rita - I've got that too, big time. I don't even need to see the white coat. It starts about a day before I see the cardiologist. When I went a couple weeks ago I walked in and told them it would be like 150. It was. Doctor said he wanted to up my dosage, I told him what my normal range is and he believed me. He just asked that I bring my monitor in at the next appointment so he could check that it's calibrated properly. There are doctors who listen; I hope you find one!

  • punamytsike
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun, what is it that you like about going out to eat in those chain restaurants?

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The food.

  • punamytsike
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Then it is easy, just learn to cook better than the food you would get there. Many benefits to that - healthier, cheaper and you control what goes into it.

    My understanding from reading your replies before, you do not enjoy cooking every day, correct? Can you get your spouse to cook some days to give you days off cooking, instead of going out?

    We have stopped going out for several years now, as the regular places serve food much inferior to what we cook at home and our pocketbook does not allow to eat out in really expensive places that would have good enough food to eat out.

  • jessyf
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    *facepalm*

  • triciae
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun,

    First, I'm sorry you've got HBP but also glad you've found out & are getting it treated.

    Decades ago when I was bodybuilding, I went on a low sodium diet to lessen retained fluid. I felt so much better that I've continued to avoid as much non-naturally occuring sodium as possible. You palette really will adjust & it doesn't take but 3-4 weeks.

    You gotten great suggestions & ideas here. I wanted to add something about ordering chicken, pork, or a steak in a restaurant that hasn't yet been mentioned.

    In the past few years many restaurants are serving meat that has been either brined or dry pre-salted. Unfortunately, for those watching their sodium intakes it harder to spot this source of added salt. In a restaurant, I always ask if the kitchen is using a brine or pre-salting method. If so, I order something else.

    Anyway, it's not just the salt applied on top during cooking anymore. Salt is everywhere in the American diet today.

    /tricia

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thank you Tricia, I wondered how long it would take.

    Well, I finally got my sauce to taste like something today.

    I bought something called California Sun-Dry Garlic with Sun-Dried Tomatoes; 50 mg sodium in 2 TBS. Each TBS packs a punch of flavor. Plus I browned some pork and then put the sauce and the sun dried garlic/tomato stuff in with the pork.

    Ok, now we're talking!

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thank you Tricia for giving me another good reason not to brine.
    I refuse to jump on the sodium cooking bandwagon even if my food doesn't "taste" as good (to those still on the wagon).

  • lindac
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "Sodium cooking bandwagon"....wow!
    I'll bet you have never had a properly brined roast....neither too salty nor too sweet, but tender and succulent.
    The world is full of people for whom salt holds no risks. In fact more people than have sodium related hypertension can enjoy salted foods.
    But I am one who can feel my fingers swell when I read recipes containing a can of cream of something soup a packet of dry soup seasoning mix 4 slices of bacon and 2 cups of grated cheese....all dumped over some healthy broccoli.
    But salt in the pasta water and a well brined pork loin and a few grains of Kosher salt on my steak are good things if you don't have HBP....not a "sodium cooking bandwagon".

  • beachlily z9a
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Sorry, Linda, but this thread is largely about people who have that problem. I don't but I don't like brined meats either.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I used to eat high sodium and I don't miss it. It did take awhile to train my taste buds. Certainly salt is fine for many people and most people can eat salty things occasionally with no problems.
    Most health guidelines set sodium intakes and the American diet usually exceeds that.
    As to a properly brined roast, who exactly sets that standard?
    Our taste is different.
    I cook for two people with high blood pressure and prefer cooking without salt.

    However, I am not the food police and what one person chooses is fine with me if that's what they want to do.
    But the idea that salt is necessary to make food taste good is another arbitrary idea.

  • triciae
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Linda, in your above post that seemed, IMO, to be trying to minimize the risks associated with American's high sodium diets, unless you already have HBP, you stated..."The world is full of people for whom salt holds no risks."

    Who are these people that have no risks from consuming a high sodium diet?

    I'm of the impressionn that lowering dietary sodium is about akin to stopping smoking for prevention of heart disease & stroke in that it's something simple we have control over as individuals that can affect our health going forward...it's not something that happens just because you ate a potato chip or smoked a single cigarette 12 years ago. It's a life-style thing and not just for people that already have HBP or heart disease. It's also to help prevent it from happening in the first place.

    This thread concerns trying to eat out in restaurants while maintaining a lowered salt diet. My comments regarding brining & pre-salting are pertinent to that goal. Before we can lower salt intake we have to know where it's lurking, right? A little bit here, a smidgeon there, dosing the water for pasta, "a few grains of Kosher salt on my steak"...they all add up at the end of the day. It's no different than just a smear of butter here, a bite of cheese there, & a taste of the brownie batter before washing the bowl lead to more fat in our diets.

    Americans eat too much salt. I think it's pretty hard to make a realistically convincing case to the contrary even for people doing most of their meal preparation at home. Although I certainly agree that commercially prepared products and restaurant food are just ridiculously high in salt. But even on the cooking shows intended to encourage people to prepare more meals at home they stress the "need" to "season" (meaning add more salt) to every layer of ingredients that hit the pan. And, once whatever they're preparing is supposedly finished...there's always the taste test following by a little "Hmmmm, it just needs a touch more salt!" as they reach for their ever present salt bowl.

    Bottom line is that there IS a "sodium cooking bandwagon" in America. Maybe not here by people on this forum but we don't represent the true cross-section of the majority of Americans, IMO.

    I don't give a hoot whether somebody brines or salts the pasta water, or not. I do care though about knowing that there's salt somewhere I might not expect & thus not calculate for in my diet. We all eat salt & we all have the need to know how much & where that salt is located. We used a teaspoon of anchovy paste in a bread filling (that teaspoon was divided between 3 loaves of bread) a few nights ago. But, I accounted for that sodium in what I did NOT eat the rest of the day.

    But telling people reading these threads that, "...salt in the pasta water and a well brined pork loin and a few grains of Kosher salt on my steak are good things if you don't have HBP....", just isn't sound, IMO. I would have liked to read you qualify your statement with something like, "I enjoy salted pasta and a well brined pork loin and a few grains of Kosher salt on my steak." It's that "good things" part of your assertion where I take a strong exception.

    Also, for people not consuming much salt...it's NOT a given that a "properly brined pork roast" tastes good. To me, it tastes like what it is...brine. Pork contains naturally occuring sodium. It's already pre-salted. (grin)

    /tricia

  • John Liu
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Your body needs some minimum amount of sodium to function. It is a biological necessity. Minimum is somewhere between 100mg and 500mg/day.

    Too much sodium is associated with hypertension. Too much is either 2400mg/day or (some think) 1600mg/day. However, this is an average and individual people react differently - for some people, blood pressure is sensitive to sodium and for others it is not.

    http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/heart/hbp/salt_up2.htm

    For the average person, a sodium intake in that range (100-500mg on the low end, 1600-2400mg on the high end) is healthy. Again, some people are more sensitive to sodium than others.

    For me, sodium level has no discernible impact on my blood pressure (and I've spent six months on a no-salt diet). Weight does have an impact.

  • foodonastump
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    A Butterball breast (obviously pre-brined) has 160mg sodium per serving, and Empire Kosher breast has 220.

    Most brining instructions I've seen have warned not to brine these because they've already got enough salt added. They don't say shorten the brining time, they say don't do it. This leads me to surmise that this range is also what's acheived in a home brining session. Sound reasonable?

    If so, I say it's not a staggering amount of sodium. Sure it needs to be counted, if you need to count. But it's about as offending as sprinking one teaspoon of low sodium soy sauce into your fried rice.

  • triciae
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    FOAS, your Butterball example illustrated my point beautifully.

    The sodium content for Butterball turkeys seems to vary. Here's a Butterball nutritional label saying there's 320mg in a 4 oz. serving. It's a "solution added" turkey so I'm assuming that's brined?

    Anyway, we've spoken about the supersizing issue in American also. So, do you think most people limit their turkey serving to four ounces? Do they count the turkey that they pick at while getting dinner on the table or what goes into the sandwich before bed? Or what about the salt added to the top of the skin before roasting? The point is that salt content of just the turkey can really add up based on the label I've linked below. How much of your day's salt do you want to consume in just turkey? It's hard to stay within guidelines as Shaun is realizing.

    This article would indicate, to me, that by watching our sodium intakes we could all benefit over the course of our lives. (sorry, I don't know how to do more than one link)

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121092008.htm

    There's lots of stuff we might do that's not necessarily the most healthy. Maybe, we drink more alcohol than we should, or consume too much salt, eat too much animal fat, choose white flour over whole grains, eat way too much sugar (http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/November05/findings/usfoodconsumption.htm), or don't exercise enough. We each have to make personal choices where to hold our ground & where to give a little. I control my sodium intake because once I got it flushed out of my system I felt so much better. Now, salt makes me feel like a blow fish & I don't like that feeling. If it's kinder on my heart, what could possibly be bad about that???

    All of these things are within our control & would make us healthier if we consumed with moderation. Americans are not known for their moderation. :(

    Anyway, you can try to justify anything but it's still true that if you're watching sodium intake & in a restaurant you should ask whether they brine...or not...because you've no idea what they put in that brine nor the quantity in the finished product.

    Sorta strange, to me, that anybody would take exception to the overall health benefits of lessening dietary sodium. I can't imagine it would happen if the issue were, say, a diabetic's diet?? Why the sensitivity to lessening salt? I eat too much white sugar. I love cookies. It's a personal choice but I'm not sensitive to the issue that it would be better for my health to cut back. Salt seems to be a issue on the forum that I don't understand. Everybody agrees that commercial food, fast food, & even quality restaurant food is oversalted but salt used in our homes seems to be a hot button.

    Oh, John...you'll get all the sodium your body needs even if you don't have salt in your kitchen. Salt is a natural element in our soils.

    /tricia

    Here is a link that might be useful: Butterball Turkey

  • foodonastump
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I've got nothing against watching salt, Tricia, in fact I watch my salt despite the fact that like John I don't notice any BP gains from it, probably because like Dr. JXBrown said I'm "young" and my kidneys work.

    When the topic of brining came up I started to wonder how much sodium actually penetrates, that's all. My conclusion is that at a couple, ok maybe even a few, hundred mg of salt from the brining process itself is a relatively small portion of a healthy daily allowance.

  • Chi
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I wanted to comment on the oat water. It sounds like you aren't actually eating the oats, but a lot of people make oat milk by blending oats and water. It's delicious and healthy with beneficial affects on cholesterol, as you mentioned. Great straight up or on cereal or baking. You can also buy it pre-packaged at the store.

    Coconut water is great. I like to drink it raw since pasteurization destroys a lot of the vitamins and enzymes. If you can get your hands on a young thai coconut, crack that baby open and enjoy. They usually have them at Whole Foods. I love to mix the water and soft meat with frozen pineapple for a healthy pina colada.

  • lindac
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    My discussion of brining a roast or sprinkling a pinch of salt on your steak or putting a teaspoon of salt into your 4 quarts of pasta water are a mere drop in the bucket of the salt binge most Americans are on....
    Consider that a can of cream of mushroom soup contains over 2000 mgs of sodium, and that stock base which so many toss in with abandon contains 750 to 1000 mgs of sodium per teaspoonful and that a can of beans in my cupboard contains 350 MGs per half cup....and that doesn't even bring up the subject of the cheese added to dishes containing these things.

    I maintain that I want my salt where the least amount gives me the most bang for my buck...or per milligram of sodium.
    and for me that means adding a little salt to my steak and making my own salad dressing and skipping the Ranch dressing. It means brining my pork loin and adding some brown sugar, garlic and a lot of rosemary to the brining solution, and skipping the potato casserole made from canned soup with some added cheese.
    My mouth knows when something is too salty....and that's most things in a chain restaurant and sadly many many things cooked by friends.
    And my body knows when the ham was too salty or I ate too many pretzels.
    Shaun's body is now telling her when she has eaten too much salt.

    Humans crave salt...that's nature's protection to insure we get enough to keep up with out salty sweat and tears. humans also crave food...that's nature's protection to see that we don't forget to eat.
    But somewhere we have gotten out signals mixed....and we "over crave" those things, so we get fat and unhealthy.
    And those condition isn't helped by the fast food places that over salt and make us accustomed to very salty stuff, so things don't taste good when they are not salted.

    An example of being accustomed to very salty foods was once when I saw a very large man open the ham and cheese sandwich I had made and sprinkle on a very generous dose of salt before he even tasted it. My FIL salted everything put in front of him, before tasting it. So when he developed heart disease it was very difficult because he was used to very very salty foods.
    Salt, fat and sugar make food taste good. Sure, we could do with less than we eat, but life isn't all about eating only what we need.
    Linda C

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Chi83, Yes, I do eat oats. I use the steel cut Irish Oatmeal; love it. But I also drink the water made with oats during the day.

    I stopped into Nutrition S'Mart today. The people who work there are so helpful. Such knowledge!

    Anyway the woman suggested a product called Potassium Chloride Powder. You sprinkle it on your food and it's salty without the sodium.

    Anyone ever heard of this or used it?

    Also got some Tomato Powder. It was sold in bulk so I just got a small bag of it for now. I'll check out Whole Foods and see if I can buy it by the jar.

  • Teresa_MN
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have heard of potassium chloride powder - only it's not the cooking form you are talking about. I take 3 to 8 packages it a day because I don't retain potassium, sodium or calcium. It's like drinking a glass of the old Tang. The amounts I take depends on how hot it is - or if I'm running a lot and losing water.

    I don't think you will be using excessive amounts, but I would show your doctor the product you are using and the approx amount you are using.

    Have you tasted a grain yet?

  • John Liu
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    triciae: "This article would indicate, to me, that by watching our sodium intakes we could all benefit over the course of our lives. (sorry, I don't know how to do more than one link)

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100121092008.htm "

    Maybe, but that may be off the average American's sodium intake of 4000mg/day. Which is way higher than what even I think is healthy.

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "---I have heard of potassium chloride powder --"

    That's what's in salt substitude.

    dcarch

  • beachlily z9a
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Linda, you are usually a wealth of knowledge, but where in the world did you find stock with 700-1,000 mg of salt per tsp.? I have used Swanson's 100% chicken broth (99% fat free, no msg) and it has 860 mg salt per CUP. I've switched to Kitchen Basics Chicken Cooking stock (100% fat free, no MSG) and it has 150 mg of sodium per cup. Great taste too. Guess I can use this one with abandon!

  • Teresa_MN
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I've seen Kitchen Basics brand. Do you like it beachlily?

  • foodonastump
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    stock base

    I've got Better than Boullion in the fridge that's got 690 per tsp. I'm sure there are some Worse than Better than Boullion out there.

  • Teresa_MN
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I use the Better than Boullion bases also. The lower sodium varieties contain 450 to 510mg per tsp. But the first ingredient is meat and meat stock (depending on which stock you have). And they are so flavorful that I don't use that much. The beef and turkey stocks are excellent. If you don't have the time to make homemade stocks at least these are excellent and you can control the amount you are using. Restaurants use soup bases all the time and the commercial brands often times have salt as the first ingredient.

  • beachlily z9a
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Teresa, I do like the Kitchen Basics. I don't use the Better than Boullion any more due to the sodium content. The good thing about Kitchen Basics is that they do have turkey stock. I've made gravy with it and it doctored up very well.

    While I don't have a problem, my husband does. He's 5 yr. older and I just passed 60. Our dr. indicated that higher BP comes with age. I'm just trying to minimize our exposure to salt and so far have been fairly successful.

  • Teresa_MN
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    beachlily - I would not mind making the stock, but have no place to put it. I don't own a large freezer. I will have to try the Kitchen Basics at your suggestion.

    It looks like this thread is no longer about going out to eat which Shaun enjoys so much. Maybe Shaun will have to cook more at home to get the BP in check and then dine out on occasion for a treat.

    Beach - have you tried the tomato powder mentioned here?

    Teresa

  • loves2cook4six
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun, I was at the Spice House today and picked you up a bottle of Tomato powder. I tried to email you but you don't have email set up through GW.

    I do, so send me an email with your address and it'll be on it's way to you ASAP. I looked to see if they had Mural of flavor or something similar but they don't :(

    BTW, beware the potassium chloride. ESPECIALLY if you have any cardiac disease. Raising your potassium levels above normal can play havoc with your health. Side effects are quite dangerous including kidney failure. Have your Dr check your potassium levels before you use a lot of it.

  • pkramer60
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun taste the potasium stuff before you use it. Personally, I would rather go without. To me it has a nasty almost metalic aftertaste.

  • John Liu
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I did not like potassium substitute for salt, when I was on a no-salt diet. I preferred Mrs. Dash.

  • lindac
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    beachlily, I am sure you know by now I was referring to stock base....and the sodium amounts depend on the brand. But 1 tsp of granules or paste or powder is the recommended amount to add to a cup of water for stock.
    Potassium chloride tastes bitter to me.
    But it all comes down to knowing where the sodium you eat is coming from....and eliminating that which doesn't make a big difference to me.
    It's like spending your money....spend it where it's important to you. do you find a 50 inch HDTV important? or would you rather a 24 inch and spend the difference on great dinners out with fabulous wine?
    It's all about choices.
    Linda C

  • JXBrown (Sunset 24, N San Diego County)
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Trader Joe's sells a great reduced sodium broth concentrate. One packet makes 1 c. of broth and has 360mg of sodium. It tastes like chicken. I use it whenever I need a small amount of chicken broth or when I have run out of homemade. I also became a big fan of drinking it on its own on the clear liquid day of the prep for the 50 year old you-know-what test.

  • liriodendron
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Shaun,

    We try to keep our sodium between 1000 to 1500 mg/day, so I know where you're coming from!

    It's tough at first, but we found that after about 4-6 weeks your taste buds start to change and the lower salt food starts tasting much better. So if you've just been doing this for a month or so, there's light at the end of the tunnel.

    You asked about eating out: that's tough but not impossible, even if your budget doesn't run to higher end restaurants that will essentially cook anything you ask for, from scratch.

    We've had some luck with Macaroni Grill (but you have to be kind of emphatic with your server about your request.) They may sort of think you're just being picky, not that you have a serious medical need. In our case it is literally a matter of life or very serious consequences. My DH is the one with the restriction, but I follow it, too, for solidarity and simplicity. He usually makes the request, then I follow up with clear statement to the server about how important it is that nothing be pre-seasoned. Or if it has been already (vegetables are a big prob here as they are parcooked in salty water during prep) I ask that the food be rinsed very well in running water then briefly reheated. You also can usually expect that you're getting a bit of left-over seasoning from previous food cooked on the same hot top or grill. We just make allowances for that.

    We never eat restaurant bread as as it is very high in salt - often higher than other commercial breads. This is because most "restaurant-made" breads are actually from commercial mixes where salt has a role in ingredient shelf life and simplified gluten-handling at the restaurant. If we don't know about the bread, we just ask that it not come to the table.

    Baked potatoes, though naturally low in salt can be high if they are salt-baked, so ask about that.

    Pizza and pasta sauces ar pretty much out, too. (Except for homemade, of course.) And almost all sauced dishes are too complex to parse and usually loaded with fats, as well. We save those kind of dishes for at-home cooking where we can control the sodium. For instance, I make Pad Thai at home, but would never risk it in a restaurant.

    However, grilled chicken breast, or steak, or broiled fish are good bets. Plain salads (sans dressing and croutons) are usually do-able. Vegs. that are not parcooked are OK, too. We don't restaurant desserts for other reasons, so that's not an issue for us. If it was, i think we'd ask for it in a take-away container and eat it at home in smaller quantities.

    For chain restaurants when traveling, we've had excellent success at Ruby Tuesday's. They are invariably pretty accomodating about our needs and their salad bar is vast and allows one to chose. We also make a point of speaking to the manager after the meal to praise their flexibility; it's apparently a corporate policy to meet low-sodium requests with equanimity. And as a rule that works.

    Are you aware of the several excellent very low sodium cookbooks? I can post some names of ones I've found useful, if you need them.

    I'm sure you realize by now that what "normal" people consider low sodium is way over the top when you're on a medically necessary low sodium diet.

    I am on a nagging campaign to get the big cooking mags to lower their recipes' sodium content. Fine Cooking at least posts the sodium content in the back of their mag. Cook's Illustrated still has their head in the sand and some of the recipes are absurd (even for people with no sodium restrictions.) Are you listening, Cook's Illustrated? Get with the program!

    I noticed that there was mention of Morton's Lite Salt. Be sure your doc OK's that for you. People on medical salt restrictions often can't use that safely because of the higher potassium levels. Sorry!

    For household salt, I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. It's 290 mg for each quarter teaspoon. About half of what ordinary table or Morton's Kosher is. It's not that it's less salty -salt is salt - it's just that texture makes it fluffier, so less sodium when measured by volume. And the larger volume makes it easier to measure and control. I also use a tiny scooch of Maldon Sea Salt, as a finisher just before serving on some things. Again its crystalline structure makes it different, and I think adds a useful "hit" of saltiness, even at tiny quantities.

    After endlessly fiddling around with my regular set of measuring spoons trying measure teeny quantities accurately, I found a set of tiny scoops (with silly cute-sy names) that I have calibrated so I can add 25-50 mg of salt accurately.

    And accuracy is important when you're banging up against a firm limit that isn't just your taste buds. (And as an aside if I know we're planning to eat out in the evening, or while traveling I double down on the salt restriction earlier in the day to make sure we have room for a bit of a splurge later-or restaurant food that isn't what it seems.)

    Early on I was pretty intensely focused, but after a couple of years, I've relaxed a bit and some very salty things are regularly served here, just in very small quantities and/or well-balanced with other things.

    Our diet rules are also much more complex than simple salt restriction because of other medical/diet issues, so I have had to learn where to be flexible and where to find ways to make food inviting and tasty. After all you'll starve to death faster than hypertension will kill you if you got so bummed out about your food that you stopped eating it with relish. I was too scared to try this at first and probably too rigid about the rules and not in a good way, according to my DH!

    As for specific (tasty) prepared products with lower-than-expected salt levels: I can share some that I've found, but maybe we should start a new thread so others trying to find the info can access it easily. I spent so much time in my supermarket peering at label after label that I eventually attracted the manager who thought I was doing something nefarious.

    And I've found that even on familar products that you're used to using you need to re-check the label when you buy new containrs as the companies often reformulate the products and upping the salt level is a favorite trick. If you find that be sure to call and give 'em a piece of your mind about it!

    We do use some prepared/convenience foods, but we choose them very carefully and often divide an entree into two portions and add it to a big salad and home-cooked veg. to fill out the meal. Some days you just need the convenience factor.

    Some, but by no means all, of the Annie's brand of lower sodium products pass muster. A few prepared foods have separate sauces that you can add after cooking in the MW. If they've got the sodium levels broken out by with and without sauce, then you will likely find that adding half or less of the sauce brings you in at a "low-enough" level for use.

    There's one brand of exceptionally tasty canned tuna with only 25 mg of sodium/serving. (Without exception so far all of the no-salt-added tuna we've tried was ghastly.) The problem with our fave brand of tuna is that it's pricier, but then since we cook mostly from scratch I figure it evens out as scratch cooking is sooo much cheaper.

    Eden makes no-salt added canned beans in many varieties, which are quite good in a pinch (not as good as home-cooked, though.)

    Muir Glen has an ever-growing line of canned tomato products with no added salt that are great (love, love love the fire-roasted no-salt-added stuff!)

    Both Pacific and Imagine aseptic-packed soups have low(er) sodium versions that are quite good (still 300 mg/400mg per 1 cup, though). I keep some on hand, always.

    Try all your available broth and stock options to find one that you like. The quality of the low-salt versions varies, as does how low is low.

    Try ethnic chinese and oriental markets for the lowest-sodium soy and nouc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) versions. They are always labeled in comprehensible ways, even if just in chinese or japanese.

    Don't get too discouraged by the "you can't make bread without salt" common knowledge. Yes, you can, but it usually takes some fiddling around with each recipe to hit the sweet spot. Sometimes a lot of fiddling, and wasted ingredients.

    I also find that low-salt cheese is not great, so we reserve some of our salt "allowance" for regular, even high salt cheese when it's called for. As an example I often grate Piave Vechio (a very high salt 560 mg/oz, extremely high flavor) cheese over a plain jane salad or soup or pasta. I use a microplane grater and find that a very small quantity makes a huge cheesy taste, often adding only 50-100 mg to the overall dish, but to great effect.

    Cottage cheese is problematic: the no salt added stuff is too bland, but the regular stuff too high. I solve that by buying both and mixing by volume. Half no-salt and half regular comes in right on the money. (BTW, Nancy's brand makes a fantastic cultured - very tangy - type of cottage cheese. That also can be added to the commoner no-salt stuff to jazz it up.)

    You also need to watch simple stuff like ordinary frozen without sauce vegetables. Some have silly amounts of sodium added. For instance one big brand (Birdseye???) has has peas with both 90 mg/serving and 0 mg/serving. The 0 mg version is just fine - not sure why you need the extra salt anyway.

    Finally, I found that it was always useful to keep a supply of tasty, reliable easy to fix things on hand so that a recipe adjustment that flops, or a long day with no thought to dinner isn't a catastrophe. That's my version of convenience foods.

    L

  • liriodendron
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Forgot to add: re baking powder/baking soda needed for making quick breads, cookies and cakes.

    Ener-G (online and elsewhere) sells no salt versions of these which work satifactorily, if they are quite fresh. Try them and if you like try to split a package with someone so you can economically keep it on hand. Store in sealed jars. You need to use at least double, by volume, to get the same leavening effect.

    HTH,

    L

  • ritaotay
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    liriodendron, fantastic responses !!!!!

    Very enjoyable read, you addressed Shaun's concerns about eating out, offered very sound advice about cooking at home and did it all without putting someone else down... Bravo !!!

    I'm looking forward to any and all of your future responses and posts.

    Rita

    P. S. Since I don't remember seeing your handle before I would like to formally welcome you to the Cooking Forum.

  • shambo
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    liriodendron, let me add my welcome. I appreciated your responses too. I've found cooking low sodium is quite the challenge. But it's not impossible. And there are some really helpful products out there. I just found a few more this week. Luckily my local grocery stores have fairly extensive "natural foods" sections, so I can find a lot of low sodium product there. But I still order from online sources at least 2-3 times a year.

    I use the Hain Feathweight no sodium baking powder. It's used just the same as regular, no need to double. It's a lifesaver when making biscuits, scones, cookies, etc.

    Sue

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    liriodendron you probably nailed down every question or wonder I had about low sodium foods and tricks to achieve a wonderful meal. All in a single post. And I thank you.

    I'm glad I came back to read this thread, it was starting to take a weird turn and I wasnt coming back to read anymore of it. Printing out your post.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I appreciated your post too, liriodendron.

    I had a friend (bbf) who in her mid thirties became deathly ill, was hospitalized for weeks and almost died. (She was thin, fit and beautiful, btw)
    I don't remember what the issue was but after, she had to go on an almost zero sodium diet. Many foods naturally contain sodium and even those she had to avoid. Spinach and buttermilk, for instance. She had an extensive list.
    It made an impression on me about sodium ...now, I just need to remember to apply it!

  • sushipup1
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I just found a new treat at the store, reduced salt Fritos. Only 80 mg sodium per serving. Fritos are a real weakness for me. ;-)

  • shambo
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Sushipup, those lower sodium Fritos taste like what I'd always wanted Fritos to taste like. I have always had trouble eating the regular stuff. Just a few handfuls and my mouth would burn from the excess salt. So I gave up even trying to eat them. Then I tried the lower sodium version a couple of years ago. They are still plenty salty as far as I'm concerned. I get them every once in a while as a special treat for my husband. We'll both enjoy a small serving once a day until the bag is finished. Then I won't get them again for another month or so.

  • shaun
    Original Author
    10 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Sushipup, thanks for telling us about the low sodium fritos. I bought some today on your and Shambo's recommendation and I LOVE them. They are still pretty salty even being low sodium.

    Hey, did I say that?