Ah, love is officially in the air. Can’t you smell it?
Chocolate, rose petals, lavender, maybe even the citrus sweetness of a slow-roasted, blood orange, pulled pork.
Okay, maybe that last one only spells “love” to someone like me.
But whatever olfactory essences speak soft, sweet nothings of amour to your nose, eyes, and ears, one thing is true when it comes to your mouth: you can taste love when it is poured into food.
So I started thinking.
February 14th is Valentines Day.
February is also National Heart Health Month.
And February welcomed the USDA’s newest dietary recommendations, which spelled out the need for a lower sodium diet (1,500 a day) for over 50% of Americans.
That’s a lot of hearts, love, and health wrapped up in twenty-eight days.
So clearly, a cyber celebration that involves gluttonous proportions of food is in order.
As such, I’ve tapped my favorite party people and next Friday, February 18th, 2011, me and some wonderful (non-restricted) blogger friends will gather together and post heart-healthy recipes on one single day. It will be an outpouring of low sodium love and proof that cutting down on salt does not mean losing flavor. Or friends. Or a spicy relationship with your food.
The rules are as follows:
1) Participating bloggers will a choose a typically salty recipe they adore.
2) They must then key in on the salty ingredients and recreate the recipe with as little sodium as possible – i.e. no salt (obvi), no salted butter, and no products that contain sodium content higher than 40mg per serving – or “very low sodium” according to the American Heart Association.
3) They can feel free to use resources like the USDA National Nutrition Database or my own mental database (just send me an email – sodiumgirl AT gmail DOT com) to see how much sodium occurs in the ingredients they chose.
4) And finally, they will post their low sodium recipe on their own blog or website next Friday, February 18th and I’ll have all the links lined up here, on Sodium Girl. It will be a link love frenzy!
If you’re still unsure how someone could possibly “salt-free” a recipe, here is a quick example of how it works:
Let’s say you want to make a Greek salad.
Typically, this recipe might contain orzo, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, red onions, and olives. By sending the recipe to me, looking at labels, or going to the USDA National Nutrition Database, you would then highlight the ingredients that are high in sodium – which, in this case, are the feta and the olives.
To overcome those obstacles, you would use your creative caps to come up with substitutions. And we’re not talking about exact replicas. Just things that either mimic the texture or the flavor of the high sodium culprits.
For the feta, I’d swap in a low sodium ricotta cheese (there are some with only 24mg per 1/4 cup) and for the olives, I’d use some red grapes, which I might soak in vinegar first to give it tang. Suddenly, that boring old Greek salad gets quite snazzy. And isn’t this exactly how some of the greatest chefs in America became famous?
So, if you are still thinking to yourself that taking out the salt is too hard, then this challenge is for you. And hopefully, with the help from blogger friends, we will have a new arsenal of tens, maybe even hundreds (okay, probably tens), of low sodium recipes to choose from.
And for those of you who are just starting to navigate a low sodium diet, I know this exercise will help you feel less lost and alone. Together, we will all put on our creative cooking caps and come up with new and exciting solutions to replacing that salt shaker.
So stay tuned. On Monday I’ll announce the blogger roll of particpants. And if you are a blogger (of any kind) and you want to play too, just send Sodium Girl an email – or comment below – and join the fun.
Kiss kiss. Hug hug. Heart Heart.