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tasty low salt and EASY, please-y

hubs' new med regime requires very low sodium to prevent excess fluid retention.

Can you hounds rattle off some easy, tasty, but low salt dishes? I'm running out of ideas. Trying for simple dishes with protein, and vitamins & mineral.

I'm steering clear of most canned foods unless low or no sodium. He can't eat any raw foods at this time either, so no salads, etc. He prefers not too spicy, but herbs are ok if they get cooked.

thanks much!

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  1. you could marinate some chicken in olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, and the herb of your choice and grill or roast it. The acid will offset the need tor salt.

    1. I'm a long time low ("lower" is probably more accurate) cook. As my dad was on a sodium-restricted diet when I learned to cook, it's a habit I picked up and it stuck. I tell first-time guests they may want more salt, but few reach for the shaker. Not sure why, unless it's that I try to serve dishes that have some flavor layers happening. Maybe people hit something they didn't expect and don't notice that the whole dish is not as salty
      as what they might be used to.

      Grated lemon zest brightens the flavor of many vegetables. Toss string beans with zest, olive oil, pepper, and toasted walnuts. Or broccoli with zest, olive oil, pepper, and roasted garlic.

      Finish off meat braises or even a pan sauce with a gremolata of lemon zest, parsley, and minced garlic.

      Citrus juice, as bw2082 suggests, can wake up a dish. Use as a marinade. Squeeze a lime wedge over corn-on-the-cob, with some unsalted butter (and sneak just a little bit of ground chiles in).

      Vinegar is another "secret" ingredient. There are a number of variations on what I call French "vinegar chicken," chicken pieces braised in different sauces, but all of which included vinegar. Google around for some. Several are in "Bistro Cooking," by Patricia Wells, and my favorite appears in "Saveur Cooks Authentic French."

      Make pan sauces using wine, or "topped" with a hit of vinegar, whenever you saute meat, deglazing the pan to get the brown bits into the sauce, and get another flavor layer.

      I know you said herbs are okay if cooked, but with summer approaching I just have to mention pesto. Good on pasta, tossed with fresh local tomatoes, or even with steamed potatoes for a different twist on potato salad.

      If you have a charcoal grill, see if your husband misses the salt as much on steaks or chops that have been infused with that grilled charcoal flavor. Top grilled steak with a pat of herb butter. (Without salt, he may find a new appreciation for herbs.)

      Think about ways you can incorporate strongly flavored ingredients into your recipes in a way that your husband would like. Fresh ginger root, for example.

      Personal weirdness, but I never salt avocados. When I'm eating guacamole, seems like there's always enough salt in the chips, so I don't add any. And lime juice and pepper is how I like to dress a sliced avocado.

      Parmalot and Muir Glen both market tomatoes with no added salt, FYI.

      Hope some of this helps.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Old Spice

        thanks for the reminder about gremolata. Meyer lemon is cranking right now.

        1. re: Old Spice

          Great ideas- my hsuband's grandparents are on a salt restricted diet and over the years they've found a lot of enjoyable meals.

          Grilled chicken marinated in lemon juice and herbs- sometimes I use Mrs Dash. They also like roasted potaoes and onions with the Mrs Dash chipotle blend.

          Homemade roasted peppers- adds flavor to so many things and they stay well in the fridge. I've chopped them up with fresh parsley and a little balsamic. The mixture is good on top of whole wheat spaghetti.

          No salt added tomatoes- Stop and Shop makes tomato sauce, paste, crushed and diced tomatoes with no added salt. I liked the no salt added so much, it's what I use in my own kitchen. I make a large batch of sauce and use it for baked pasta and meat. My husband actually likes it better than his mother's recipe with marinara sauce.

          If your husband likes stir fries, try making it without soy sauce. I like stir fried zucchini slices with mint and lemon juice.

          Also- swiss cheese is very low in sodium.

          1. re: cheesecake17

            I was going to say I make a roasted red pepper, garlic, whole wheat pasta, grilled chicken lots of herbs, and just a touch of cream to thicken, a little fresh home made stock which I know has no salt. I also like to add some fresh sauteed mushroom and onions. All low fat and healthy.

            I love polenta, I grill some chicken and put in a simple pesto sauce, add a little liquid, broth but no salt and then top over polenta with some sauteed mushrooms and some grated cheese.

            Marinades are key for pork and chicken and beef.

            Turkey meatballs are great, low in sodium, healthy, lots of herbs and served over asian noddles with an asian sauce vs. marinara. Too many sauces to name.

            A simple pork roast with a pesto marinade ... lots of cooked vegetables., simple and no salt, very healthy and substantial. A roasted sweet potatoes.

            1. re: kchurchill5

              They love turkey meatballs with Trader Joe's low-sodium marinara. Mushrooms don't go over so well with them b/c they feel the dish needs salt.. but it doesn't bother me.

        2. i love garlic and onions - using these as a base for a dish enables a decreased use of salt. i'd use a pressure cooker to caramelize some onions and add in garlic at some point. then broil some fish, but coat it first with some low-sodium crumbs mixed with nutritional yeast for (reduced sodium) flavor.

          1. Old Spice is right...vinegar is your friend when on a low-sodium diet...it offers so much flavor and no sodium...balsamic vinegar, too...awesome taste! Fresh lemon too is excellent. Have you tried any of the Mrs. Dash seasonings? They are wonderful...we love the Garlic & herb. They also have a website with rated recipes, very helpful!

            Can you grill where you live? Here's our favorite chicken marinade for the grill--

            1/4 cup cider vinegar
            1 1/2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard (okay..you CAN find no-sodium mustard...I think it's Westbrae--Boar's Head is only 40 mgs per serving, pretty good)
            1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
            3 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
            Juice of 1 lime (sometimes I use more of this if the lime is a little dry)
            1/3 cup brown sugar
            6 Tablespoons olive oil
            2 or 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

            I've successfully used just 3 Tablespoons of no-sodium mustard for this...mix everything and pour over 4 or 5 chicken pieces (we always remove the skin and fat), whatever you like. Marinate for at least 4-6 hours...then grill, basting with marinade.

            1. You simply do not need to cook with salt. There are thousands of herbs and spices that will flavor foods without any salt. Start with white and black pepper. Everywhere a recipe calls for salt substitute white or black pepper. Or just leave out the salt.

              *Cooking* without salt is a no-brainer, IMHO. Buying products that are low/no-salt takes a bit of reading. Avoid virtually all canned goods; most processed foods.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KiltedCook

                I already cook very low salt; what I'm looking for are some ideas for days we are both tired/stressed and still need to eat a satisfying meal; unusual or unconventional simple low-salt meals.

              2. grill a chicken breast, or if it were me, I'd do thighs. Think Italian in seasoning for it.

                Make a favorite pasta.

                sautee a green leafy veg (my preference would be escarole for this)

                Your sauce for this will be unsalted butter, balsamic vinegar, evoo, and a bit of lemon juice. Add the herbs you'd care for, and an amount of garlic you'd care for. A salty bite can be added with a touch of parmesan, but something about balsamic vinegar, and the fatty butter negates much of a need for real salt to be added.

                Sizzle the sauce in a saute pan, and then add the other ingredients, toss around to coat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gordeaux

                  Gordeaux' post reminded me: you can also oven-roast all kinds of veggies for extra flavor...broccoli is just incredible oven-roasted with a little olive oil, crushed garlic and hot pepper flakes and/or some Mrs. Dash...roasting and grilling veggies brings out incredible flavors and it's so easy to do!

                2. thanks for the replies. What do you all fall back on when you're tired/ stressed and still need to put a tasty and nutritious meal on the table, but don't have the time or energy to do your "usual" meals.

                  Any tricks or stategies?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: toodie jane

                    TJ, would you consider lentils quick? To me they are...they cook in 20 or 25 minutes...after they're cooked you can season with some balsamic vinegar; then, cooked spinach on the side, that's a pretty good meal...maybe some cornbread, too? Just trying to help!

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      Lol. Good question. VERY good question. Low sodium means virtually nothing processed as you already know. Which in turn can mean not too much already prepared by someone else.
                      My answer to your question is to prepare ahead of time. Things like roasted/smoked chickens freeze BEAUTIFULLY. I almost always have a few 1/2 chickens in my freezer. I don't do frozen veggies, however, sorry. If I have to eat veggies with no salty tang to them, then I won't waste my time eating mush. So, usually, I wind up sauteeing a few veggies, or making a side dish of some sort, and nuking up a 1/2 of a roasted/smoked chicken for those days. Ona wknd day where you don't have much going on, throw some chickens in the oven, or on the smoker. Do enough to make it worth while.

                      1. re: gordeaux

                        thanks gordeaux, for the nudge on the chicken 1/2's. I used to bbq alot and always put on extra, to freeze for later. Now I can roast it--roast chicken pieces are one of my favorite childhood foods. m-m-m-m---m-m-m. or as the youngsters say now, nom nom nom.

                        I did some polenta last night for braised lamb shanks, and froze the extra slabs. That will come in handy for polenta lasagne.

                        Funny how I was so much more organized, foodwise, when I worked 40 hrs a week. Now that i'm semi-retired, not so much!. Necessity did it, I suppose.

                    2. Just as a helpful hint, I have found canned beans at Whole Foods with no added salt (pintos, black beans, chick peas, etc). Ingredients are just beans and water. I love canned beans because it is so easy to make a fast and healthy meal with them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mels

                        we love beans too--what are some of your creative ways to use the canned beans?

                      2. Just found a new site that is focused on low salt tips and recipes...http://lowsaltlauren.com

                        1. I would suggest making your own stock. It’s very simple, no need for special equipment and does not require much work. Save the bones from the chicken recipes suggested. Val mentioned lentils. Make lentil soup, meatball soup, chicken soup, etc. Use it instead of water when you boil rice. You can also use the stock to make a quick tomato sauce using tomato paste. The stuff in the tube is great to have around so you just use what you need and store the tube in the refrigerator.

                          White Stock

                          This recipe is easily adjustable for your size of stockpot and the amount of bones you have available.

                          5 – 6 pounds of chicken bones
                          Approx. 12 quarts of cold water – enough to cover the bones
                          6 cloves
                          1 onion
                          2 leeks (I use the timings from my freezer)
                          1 rib of celery
                          2 peeled carrots
                          3 bay leaves
                          3 sprigs of thyme or ½ teaspoon of dried

                          Place the bones in the stockpot, add water and bring to a boil. Boil gently uncovered for about an hour. Skim off the gray foam and fat from the surface periodically.

                          Stick the cloves in the onion and add to the stock after about an hour along with the other ingredients. Boil gently for 5 hours and skim the fat periodically. Yes, 5 hours; that is the key. I am not the police so if you do not want to cook it that long that is up to you but you should try this at least once. Strain the stock through a fine sieve or cheesecloth and let cool. Place in the refrigerator for storage.

                          Remove any fat that has collected at the top after refrigeration. The stock will be gelatinous and taste better than anything from a can or box. It’s also salt free! You can further reduce it to concentrate the flavor and it freezes wonderfully.

                          1. Thanks, folks for all your suggestions. Keith is now off thelow salt diet, but I now have new ideas!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: toodie jane

                              When my son was sick, I just kind of adopted the low-sodium philosophy for myself and now have kept it *pretty much* as my eating lifestyle. (not suggesting that YOU do that, I'm just commenting) I learned a lot! I pretty much buy low-sodium or no-sodium everything.

                            2. My grandfather went on a very strict low salt diet. It really isn't bad. It was funny how much I learned cooking. Now he could eat raw foods, but yes salt was an issue and to this day, most people say I under salt most things, because of that. I don't mind. Less salt is better for you.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                AND they can always add salt if they want it for their portion. but you can't take it away..