Posts Tagged ‘healthy cooking’

Cut Salt, Not Flavor

September 7, 2012

Over the past few years, health professionals have seen in studies over and over again that high sodium diets contribute to many health problems. The findings of these studies are overwhelming and alarming to many in the healthcare field, so they have been taking action to try to reduce the amount of sodium in diets across the country.

Until now, most of these endeavors have centered on public education, attempting to spread the word about the seriousness of diseases that can be caused and exacerbated by excess sodium in the diet. However, the American Public Health Association has recently asked the FDA to begin regulating the amount of sodium that is allowed in foods at restaurants, as well as other processed foods.

Many restaurants have already begun offering low-sodium dishes, but in the light of this possible regulation, that may not be enough. If the regulation goes into effect, restaurants that have not already begun to cut back on the use of salt in their dishes may find themselves scrambling to modify their menus. The sooner restaurants begin making these changes, the easier it will be for them to adjust to the new requirements.

Also, health-conscious patrons will appreciate restaurants that are proactive when it comes to creating a healthier population.

Menu Modifications Geared Towards Healthy Cooking

If a restaurant has not already done so, one of the first steps to creating a menu that is light on the salt is to offer a few low-sodium dishes. Many Americans suffer from high blood pressure and other health problems caused or irritated by consuming too much salt. Not all of them change their diets to help avoid more problems, but many do their best to avoid foods with high salt content. Those customers will be incredibly grateful to find a restaurant that offers foods that they can enjoy guilt-free.

Restaurant owners and chefs may also consider changing some of their recipes so that they contain less salt per serving. Begin by identifying where all of the sodium is coming from in a particular recipe. This will most likely include not only salt, but soy sauce, canned ingredients, and other packaged and processed items.

Try making the recipe with less of some of the sodium-rich ingredients, or simply less salt. Test to see if anyone can tell the difference, or if some even prefer the low-sodium version. Repeat this with each dish until as much salt as possible has been removed from the menu.

Smart Seasoning

Thankfully, cutting down on the salt content does not necessarily mean that the flavor of a dish will suffer. There are many ways to add flavor to a dish without getting out the salt shaker. Some of the canned ingredients that contain salt mostly for preservation can be replaced by fresh ingredients. For instance, using fresh tomatoes will add more flavor and nutrition to a dish while removing the salt content usually added by the canned alternative.

Also, items like onions and garlic can be substituted for a portion of the salt in a dish and add healthy antioxidants as well. Other herbs and spices can also be used to boost flavor without adding salt. For all of these ideas, it just takes a little experimentation to eventually create a health-conscious, low-sodium version of a great menu.