January 23

Cut the Salt and You’ll Cut Calories in Your Food


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Cooking healthy meals is a good way to start the New Year, especially if you've overindulged during the holidays. All those cookies, special drinks and nibbles can pack on the pounds, as well as upset your digestive system. Get back on track to healthy eating with one simple trick.

Use spices and herbs instead of salt. You might not realize it but most Americans consume double the amount of salt they require. If you eat one fast food burger you've consumed all the salt for the day, half the calories you require and all the fat. Only 15 percent of the salt most people eat is consumed by salting their food while eating or cooking.

Cut down on the salt by reading labels. Did you know one serving of a popular canned chili has 30 percent of the salt you're allowed for the day? And a serving isn't the entire can it's one cup. Make your own chili and freeze it in meal-size portions. Pick up low sodium cheese and use no-added sodium roast deli beef for sandwiches.

Most people have an acquired taste for salt. Parents actually salt their purchased baby food because the food tastes flat to them. The baby of course, not being used to eating salt, doesn't mind the taste. The easiest way to readjust your taste buds is to go cold turkey for three or four days. That means not only not adding salt, but preparing meals from salt-free ingredients. It will take some extra time but at the end of the time period you'll recognize just how salty most food is. You might even lose a few pounds because you can't eat fast food that's loaded with salt and fat.

Replace the salty flavor with strong tasting herbs such as rosemary, basil, dill or oregano. Add heat instead of salt by adding in diced fresh jalapenos, cayenne pepper or even hot pepper sauce. Boost flavor with spices such as fennel seed, cumin or cinnamon. Try cinnamon in meat dishes such as chili or meatloaf.

Make your own dips using fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream and mayonnaise. A quick and easy dip that can be thinned with apple cider vinegar to use as a salad dressing is to mix one cup of fat-free yogurt with 1 tablespoon of dill seed, 1 teaspoon of dried onion flakes or 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder (not onion salt), 1/4 cup of chopped scallions, 1/4 cup of minced cucumber, throw a tablespoon of fresh chopped dill if you have it. You won't miss the salt or the extra calories in purchased onion dill dips with this recipe.

Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. Her hobbies include gardening and cooking healthy dinner recipes, and sharing her grilling tips. She lives with an Irish Setter and an English Springer Spaniel.


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