HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Need help with low sodium recipes

My husband has Congestive Heart Failure. He is limited to 1500-2000MG sodium per day. Would appreciate any recipes or tips. I can not use salt sub. Am using a lot of herbs. Some foods are so horrible without a little salt. For instance, mashed potaoes taste like paste. I have been doing baked potatoes with lots of Black pepper. Every thing has to be cooked from scratch.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Cooking from scratch is the only way to know what's really in what you're eating.

    I, too, limit salt and cook at home. Restaurant meals have become over-salted as my palate has adjusted.

    Have you tried Mrs. Dash? I love the Original Blend. <http://www.mrsdash.com/products/All-P...>

    PS When applied to popcorn, this can be addictive!

    1. You are right. Everything must be cooked from scratch. My mom somehow lives on about 1000 mg per day, and it is tough to feed her at times. At the same time, it's amazing how much sodium gets packed into our diet without us reaching for the salt shaker. As the baby boomers age, there are alternative products on the grocery aisles that were not easily available 10 years ago.

      Get rid of the top piece of bread in a sandwich, since there is a fair amount of sodium in bread. Start looking for no-salt canned tomatoes for cooking. Use dried beans instead of canned. Don't believe that prepared broth is low sodium, unless it has 140mg of sodium or less per serving. (College in has 1050mg; their "low-sodium" has 570). Cook with fresh vegetables rather than canned or frozen. Unsalted butter, of course. If you are serious, you can purchase low sodium baking powder.

      But there are ingredients that you can reach for to add flavor. Herbs you already know about; basil, cilantro, parsley, dill and even scallions all pack a freshness in. Vinegar also adds a lot of flavor in the right dishes. So do lemons and limes; don't forget to use the zest! Spices that you may not think of all the time include nutmeg, fenugreek, curry powder and cayenne.

      Steam your veggies. Make your own salad dressings. Roast veggies with a little olive oil in a hot oven. The carmelization can help pack some more flavor in.

      Snack foods. You can find some salt-free chips if you look hard enough, potato, sweet potato, pretzels too. Pop your own corn on the stovetop, and sprinkle it with curry powder, taco seasoning, or cinnamon sugar.

      Mashed potatoes are rough, but roasted potatoes aren't so bad. Nor are boiled potatoes tossed with a little olive oil, thyme, and pepper. Brown rice and quinoa have more flavor to them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: thinks too much

        I agree that a mixed seasonings like Mrs. Dash is helpful. I also second the tip about vinegar and/or citrus. A little acid wakes up flavor. If mashed potatoes are horrible, make potatoes another way. And you can always cook rice with herbs for a starch. You do get used to lower salt intakes. But it is an adjustment. Once you go low salt, restaurant cooking will seem unbelievably salty. For snack foods, use unsalted sunflower seed or other natural nuts and unsalted home popper popcorn. Good luck in this endeavor.

        1. re: thinks too much

          i'm sorry, but salt free chips and pretzels are like packing material. not even worth eating.

        2. Salt substitutes like Nu-Salt taste way too chemical/metallic, and I don't care for the taste of Mrs. Dash, but I love Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, which is salt-free. It takes a couple of weeks to get past the urge for salt but afterwards it's fine - except that now prepared foods are all too salty tasting. I heartily second the recommendation for vinegar, lemon, and other acidic ingredients. They make up for salt very well.

          1. Molly,

            I think you are correct. Using herbs and spices are a great way to cut down the salt. In addition, adding vinegar or adding lemon/lime juice may also help. It should not be too difficult to cut the sodium level down to 2000 mg per day when you cook from scratch. It is tougher if you eat out and buy packaged foods, but it is not ridiculously difficult if you cook at home. It is fine to add a little bit of salt here and there, just be careful.

            More importantly, it can be difficult to lower the sodium level if you are used to high sodium diet, but it is reversible. If you stick with a low sodium diet after awhile, you won't find the food bland anymore. Your preference will slowly justify. In other words, just because a low sodium mashed potato tastes bland to you now, it does not mean it will taste bland in a few months.

            Other substitute for sodium chloride is to use potassium chloride, but many people find the taste significantly inferior. Nu-salt is one of them. You can give it a try.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I agree with everything you wrote except the last sentence. I think the reason people with congestive heart failure are warned about using salt substitutes is because of the potassium level...am I wrong?

            2. for mashed potatoes, i would mix in some pureed roasted garlic and cooked onions.

              almond or hazelnut toasted crusted fish with herbs - thyme, parsley, basil, rosemary, etc.

              blackened fish

              salmon croquettes with cooked flaked salmon, cooked diced onions, parsley, egg and almond meal to bind. and freshly ground black pepper.

              chicken or fish fajitas, heavy on the salsa(homemade)

              stuffed mushrooms with lentils, barley, shallots, garlic, thyme

              what do you guys like to eat? what can we help you de-sodiumify?

              1. certain foods, like potatoes, are blank canvases and either you drown them in butter or salt. i'd suggest steering away from foods like that til your palate is better adjusted downward for less salt.

                use foods more naturally flavorful, like wild rice and sweet potatoes for starch. but focus on flavorful veggies, like red and yellow peppers, broccoli rabe, tomatoes, etc. utilize copious amounts of fresh herbs and be profligate with fresh citrus juice and pepper.

                2 Replies
                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I to am on low sodium diet. But still can have pizza,hot italian sausage,have found many products that are low or no sodium like pickles.
                  This link is to a mail order company in Minnesota that sells low salt no salt products only.
                  http://healthyheartmarket.com/
                  I make everything from scratch and it is very easy. I average 400 to 900mg per day. 100 to 200 if I really want to. I have a recipe for soy sauce with zero sodium.
                  http://www.lowsodiumcooking.com/free/...
                  The beef broth I use is Herb ox no sodium sold in some stores but also from healthymarket.com thet also have no sodium chicken broth
                  Search google for low or no sodium recipes there are lots
                  My favorite is hot ilalian sausage with 40mg sodium 1mg sat fat. I use it to replace all gr.
                  beef recipes.
                  http://thedailydish.us/

                  1. re: becks1

                    A BIG THANK YOU! to all who replied to my request for Low Sodium recipes. They are so helpful. Did not realize there are so many people on the same diet.

                2. I'll share this link to some DASH diet recipes; it's meant for high blood pressure so it's low sodium. I used to cook low sodium for someone and now have to do it for my own health. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dash...

                  Trust me, your tastes change. Plus, it can open up a whole new world of experimenting with different cuisines and cooking techniques. I am wholly against 'fake food' and trying to remake recipes in healthier versions, it just never satisfies me long term. For me it's much better to find another exciting recipe than try and alter an old favorite that will never be the same.

                  Potatoes -- try yogurt (as a topping, or mashed). Every brand of yogurt has a different flavor profile. A creamy one that simulates sour cream for me is Pavel's Russian yogurt, and for tang I like Mountain High. Meat juices and spices soaking into your mashed potatoes on a plate can add a lot of flavor, as in this recipe for curried apple pork tenderloin: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heal... Also, mashing other veggies like cauliflower or carrots can add a lot of interest.

                  And for seasoning think outside the box. Asian ingredients can often be laden with salt, but not everything is. One of my favorite things to sprinkle on everything (and I mean everything!) is Nanami Togarashi, a blend of chiles, orange peel, and sesame seeds that is salt free. Sprinkle a little and it's flavorful and aromatic, sprinkle a lot and it is spicy hot.