Category Archives: snacking

Bunny Bars

Hey. Congratulations.

We all totally survived that whole “end of days” thing. What a load of hype. There wasn’t a single meteor, no invasion by aliens, and hardly a tremor. I think the rattling I felt was just a combination of the wind and the Muni passing by. Sometimes I do think it’s an earthquake. Don’t judge. The supposed Rapture sure didn’t.

So, yeah, that whole apocalypse thing not happening was kind of a relief. Although we took full advantage of the buzz and hosted a party to celebrate. The theme: your last meal on earth.

I made low sodium meatball subs. Obviously. Was that even a question?

But the idea of impending disaster – whether real or highly dramatized – was also a good reminder to be prepared. To have your earthquake/apocalypse kits packed and ready to go. And I’m not just talking about water, first aid supplies, and a cross bow. I’m talking about filling those 911-bags with low sodium foods that are lightweight, nutritious, and low in salt.

I’ve found some great products already, which include things like individual packets of tahini butter and these other goodies. But finding a granola bar has always been a bit difficult. Between my salt-free needs and my nut allergy (ugh), there aren’t many cunchy oat snacks that I can eat.

Until Bunny Bars. Which are sold in WALGREENS. And are gluten, sodium, and nut free. Score.

They’re great for the emergency kit, as an afternoon snack, for hiking, for lunch boxes, for baseball games…

…and definitely good for magic shows too.

I think these treats may be marketed specifically for children. I just have a hunch.

But their taste is definitely appropriate for adults. A population that can eat chocolate at all times of the day without having to ask for permission. Ever.

So yeah, sodium-free Bunny Bars. Hop to it.

And chow on.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under good living, snacking, tips & tricks

Look What I Made Wednesday – Questions and Answers

Today we are going to take a slight departure from our normal Wednesdays and I’m going to tell you about all the things I love.

I love the rain.

I like the sound of it. I like the way the air smells after it. I particularly like it when I am not wearing shoes.

I don’t necessarily love the rain – achem – when it comes in April. April is supposed to be about flowers, spring cleaning, and candy. Which I love to eat after dinner and for breakfast.

But I like the rain – ok, I’ll say I love it – even during the spring because it gives me an excuse to make hot cocoa. Which I love and haven’t been able to drink due to the high sodium content of milk and hot chocolate mixes.

But now, thanks to So Delicious Coconut milk and these nifty vegan marshmallows

I am loving me some orange, coconut hot chocolate right now. In April. With marshmallows floating on top. As a snack.

This, I love.

I also love to write and eat and write about eating. Especially on this blog. And I really love it when I hear from you.

So I wanted to dedicate this Wednesday’s post to some of your most recent questions. And hopefully you love the idea as much as I do.

Q: How did you define your sodium boundaries?

A: First and most importantly, remember that everybody and every body is different. For me, I found that by limiting my sodium intake to 500-1000 mg per day, I was able to go off of dialysis, avoid a kidney transplant, and maintain my health with diet and daily medications.

But whether you are counting sodium or calories, you don’t want your diet to take over your mind or life. So I made some simple rules for myself:

  1. I don’t eat any food that has naturally more than 100mg of sodium per serving. This means avoiding most shellfish, but surprisingly not clams. And I can safely enjoy the majority of beef, poultry, fish, vegetables, and fruit.  Just be aware of your portion sizes and how it affects the sodium levels of the food you are consuming. Three ounces of steak may only be 90 mg of sodium, but once you start eating a twelve ouncer, well you’re talking about a whole new ball game.
  2. As for packaged goods, I try to avoid them. Over 70% of America’s sodium intake comes from processed food. But like any human being, if I need a shortcut or an ingredient that is hard to find fresh, I only use canned products that have 40 mg of sodium per serving or less. And remember what I said about serving sizes. If I am using tomato paste, which runs around 30 mg per 2 tablespoons for one particular brand, I would use it if I only needed 2 tablespoons. But I would pass if I needed a cup.
  3. And ultimately, you have to educate yourself and define your own parameters. Grab the Pocket Guide to Low Sodium Foods or check out the USDA National Nutrient Database. And read up. Once you can easily identify the sodium levels in foods, you can make choices quickly and hassle free.

Q: You mentioned that you have a card you bring with you to restaurants that lists your dietary needs. Is it on your site somewhere?

A: There are a couple good posts (if I do say so myself) that talk about successful dining tips here and here. But because you asked, here is the exact note that I email restaurants – if I’ve made reservations ahead of time – and always keep tucked in my purse. You will obviously need to change the name, but I think you get the point:

Jessica’s kidney’s failed seven years ago and as a result, she has to keep a very strict NO SODIUM diet. We thank you in advance for taking her needs seriously and using this list to help preparation:

Jessica CANNOT eat:

*no salt, no salted butter, no salted broths or sauces

*nothing pre-seasoned with salt or seasonings and sauces that contain sodium

*no vegetables or grains that have been blanched or cooked in salt water

*no shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops, mussels)

*no soy or Teriyaki

*nothing that has been smoked, pickled, braised, or brined with salt

*no pre-canned or pre-packaged vegetables

*no dairy or cheese (besides the ones listed below)

Jessica CAN eat:

*all fresh beef, poultry, white fish, and clams

*all vegetables and fruits

*olive oils, most vinegars (check for sodium on label), wine, garlic, citrus, onions, fresh herbs, sweet butter

*unsalted reduction sauces and broths

*cream, most creme fraiche, and most mascarpone

*all grains and pastas (made without salt) cooked in unsalted water

*all spices (without sodium) and chillis

Q: On Wednesdays, I can never find the recipe that coordinates to the beautiful picture you posted. What’s going on here?

A: Right now, as I plow through the initial manuscript of my cookbook, hump days are pure teasers. In “Look What I Made Wednesdays,” I’m just showing one of the latest concoctions for my upcoming tome (okay,100 recipes) of low sodium treats. So savor with your eyes…for now.

Q: Okay, will do. But in the meantime, do you have other recipes I can print out and is there a search button?

A: Yes, there are recipes. Yes, there is a search button (it should be to the right side below “Archives”). And yes, I’m working on a better recipe system for the site.

Actually, I am working on a better site! As of next week, I am giving Sodium Girl and 21st century makeover and there will be all sorts of cool new gadgets, widgets, and recipe indexes that will make low sodium cooking even cooler than before. So thanks for hanging in there with me as we turn this duck into a low sodium swan. Or something like that. And in the meantime, if you can’t find a recipe for something, shoot me an email or post a comment below.

4 Comments

Filed under good living, restaurant ordering, snacking, tips & tricks

Product Alert

Here are things I love: fried chicken, french fries, tempura, onion rings, and when it comes to low sodium living, being wrong. Which has nothing to do with being dipped in hot oil…thank goodness.

My great mistake begins with yogurt. For years, I have avoided it since many dairy products are high in sodium. But with my recent travels, I started contemplating the yogurt compromise.

At airports and on-the-road, low sodium food is scarce. I tend to look for things like steamed white rice, fresh fruit, and hard boiled eggs to keep me fueled and my stomach quiet. But often, even these items can be difficult to find and are generally not very satisfying.

Yogurt, however, is pretty much everywhere. Plentiful, if you will. From Walgreens to Whole Foods and all the corner stores in between, you are almost guaranteed to find a carton of the stuff. And after years of giving it the cold shoulder, I decided to take a second look.

Most yogurts (excluding the soy or coconut based products) fall in the 80 to 100mg of sodium per container range, which is why I always left them on the refrigerated shelf. But if you consider that an egg has 70mg of sodium, then suddenly, substituting yogurt for a three-egg omelette (especially when you are in a food pinch) is perfectly acceptable.

Here’s the best part, upon further inspection, there are even some Greek yogurts that fall in the 30 to 40mg of sodium per container range. Less than a third of a can of Coca Cola. And the FAGE brand – shown above – comes in some super exciting flavors, like honey and cherry pomegranate. Low in sodium, not in taste.

So on this Hump Day, as you race around town and realize that you haven’t had anything to eat, do me a favor and skip the banana/coffee “in-a-crunch” lunch – which is what I am eating as I write this and trust me, it is not that exciting. Treat yourself to spoonfuls of yogurt and sugar instead, because, as it turns out, you can.

Chow on.

4 Comments

Filed under food shopping, snacking, tips & tricks

The Simplest Recipe

As a low sodium eater, lunch is the most difficult meal of the day, especially when you are constantly on-the-go.

Most people eat lunch out, during a busy work day or while ticking off a long list of errands. And for the salty population, there is a plethora of options to choose from: an overflowing turkey sandwich, a bowl of hot chicken soup, or even a slice (or two) of pizza ordered by the office.

But for us, the salt-less crusaders, choices are slim: steamed white rice from the local chinese take-out, a create-your-own salad bar, or maybe the occasional French fry (thank you Frjtz).

While I am thankful for these snacks, I have to be honest – sometimes my belly wants more. Sometimes I want to eat a lunch that will not just keep me full, but one that will make me smile, taste bud to taste bud.

So here’s the most perfect, simple solution: leftovers. In my not very humble opinion, most low sodium dinners fare quite well the second day around (except fish). And by eating that amazing risotto you made last night, again, you not only pay homage to your hard work and save a couple of bucks, but you are guaranteeing yourself a fully satisfying, low sodium meal.

On this hump-day, I give you the simplest salt-free recipe for a delicious lunch. Go ahead and plan that tupperware party, it’s time to pack up some goodies and as always, chow on.

Ingredients:

  • well-sealed plastic container
  • leftovers

Directions:

1. After cleaning up dinner, place leftovers into a well-sealed plastic container.

2. Refrigerate over night.

3. The next day, pack the leftovers in your computer bag or purse (make sure there are no leaks in your tupperware!) and take with you.

4. Wait a few hours and around lunch, take out tupperware, reheat, and eat.

6 Comments

Filed under good living, snacking, tips & tricks

A New Groove

A low sodium education is a life-long project. Even after seven years of constant research, reading, and experimentation, I still find myself learning about new products (with no salt!) and discovering that others (which I’ve enjoyed for some time) have a higher sodium content than I would expect.

Case and point: fruit juice.

Now, a smart lady or gentleman (like myself) would most likely figure that fruit juices – which one assumes contains some fruit – would be virtually low in sodium, if not sodium free. But here’s the surprising truth: (a) many bottled juices do not actually contain real fruit but fruit flavorings and other processed goodies to make them taste “good”, and (b) these man-made flavors can drive the sodium content to surprisingly high levels.

And is a glass of faux cran apple really worth it?

When you can sip on something that is more nutrient rich and low in sodium, the answer is clearly no.

Thankfully, all juices are not created equal and the Bossa Nova Superfruit Juice line is created with thought and care. Oh, and real fruit too.

I was lucky enough to sample six of the fresh-pressed, wonder drinks – thank you Edelman PR – all of which hover around 25mg of sodium per bottle. Each juice is built upon the power of goji berry, acai, or mangosteen – fruits which provide amazing health benefits – and then other flavors like peach, tart cherry, and mango are added to round out the taste sensation.

As for the packaging, the bottles are so colorful that you want to collect them all. And they each include an explanation about the super fruit (which is super cute) and a list of ingredients (which are all familiar and easy to read).

Quench your thirst with these low sodium fruit drinks and simultaneously reduce inflamation, boost your immunity, and protect your heart from cardiovascular disease (and maybe even cupid’s arrow – to be tested). They taste as good as you’ll feel.

Sodium Girl Note: Because the drinks are all made with at least 80% juice, they are thicker than most watered-down varieties. So if you prefer a thinner texture, I suggest mixing with some sparkling water or using these juices for homemade popsicles. And don’t overlook their potential for low sodium, sweet and savory cooking creations. Reduce one of the many flavor combinations with balsamic vinegar, port, and even some freshly chopped stone fruit or dried cherries. In moments, you have a healthy topper for coconut ice cream or a rich sauce for a glistening pork chop. Antioxidants pair well with meat.

Keep your low sodium fridge stocked with these super tasty, super fruit drinks and keep your body full of vitamins, energy, and flavor.

Drink on.

1 Comment

Filed under food shopping, snacking, tips & tricks

Toot Your Horn, It’s Time For Corn

In the somewhat altered words of Steven Tyler, “it’s a-maize-ing.” And I’m not just referring to Aerosmith’s extremely long career, or Tyler’s obsession with scarves, but I’m also talking about the savory, sweet, and ultimately flexible culinary properties of a fresh ear of corn.

While this vegetable may be best known for its simple work on the cob, there are many ways these little kernels can fill your plate – as a side, as a snack, as an entrée, and as a sweet treat to end the day. And as such, I’m planning to write about this ancient crop, and only this crop, next week.

But let’s back up a bit and take a second to appreciate my obsession with corn.

As a child, I knew it was summer not because the school bell stopped ringing, nor because the afternoons became longer and the sun hotter. I knew it was summer when my dad came home with fresh cracked crab from the local seafood house, artichokes from the grocery store, and milky white corn from my grandfather’s garden. It was a taste and olfactory alarm clock that could not be denied. A town crier that screamed the good news – the summer solstice had arrived.

This year, however, stormy weather and cold fronts hit the snooze button for a few months and, while there were still some nights of shucking and boiling, most of my corn came from a frozen bag. Zero sodium, good flavor, but just not the same. Like sitting in a blow-up kiddie pool instead of screaming down a water slide.

But on the horizon, there was husking hope and I began to notice corn recipes cropping up all over the internet fields: Hogwash’s New Lobster Chowder with Corn Stalk; Daily Dish’s Corn & Potato Chowder; and Low Sodium Adventures in Cooking’s Scalloped Corn. With all this cyber buzz, clearly this stalky crop’s ears were burning (bam – corn joke) and I was listening.

So, as I already revealed earlier, next week will be filled with corn recipes. And the best news is that you – yes you – get to decide the final menu. Just take part in the poll below to weigh in on which corn-based, Salt-Free My Recipe you want to see.

In the meantime though, let me leave you with something simple and delicious for the weekend. Forget about the savory and let’s focus on the sweet. Close your eyes and imagine for a second that you are off to the movies this weekend, a picnic in the park, a county fair, or a football game as the season kicks off. You have everything you need to enjoy your day – a hat, sunscreen, a sweater in case the theater gets cold – but your hands seem to be longing for something. Mittens? No way. A hand to hold? Nah, this weather is a case for sweaty palms. Popcorn? You betcha!

Now, while freshly popped popcorn (i.e. you, some kernels, and a pot over medium heat) has no sodium, it does require either a microwave or a stove and, of course, some creativity. I’ve enjoyed many homemade bowls of this airy treat, dressed up in flavored olive oil, browned butter, and spices (like cayenne, cumin, herbs, and even curry). But sometimes, you just want something that comes ready-to-eat.

And low and behold, with enough praying and patience, another low sodium wish has come true and yesterday, at my grocery store Mecca (thank you, Whole Foods), I found a huge bag of salt-free, cinnamon sprinkled popcorn.

With a whopping zero mg of sodium per serving, Colby’s Kettle Corn is truly authentic (only three ingredients) and each crisp, bite is truly delicious. Colby’s makes a point of being, as they say on their website, the “low sodium popcorn for those watching their salt intake.” Their product, and purpose, is greatly appreciated by the low-so community and as a side-note, their popcorn is also totally addictive and I suggest buying a complimentary bag clip in order to stop yourself from consuming the whole thing.

So that, my friends, is just the start of an exciting week of corn – baked, boiled, fried, and popped. And to make future posts even more exciting then these sugar dusted fairy nuggets you see in the picture above, take the poll below and let your low sodium voice be heard. Better than a rumbling tummy.

Have a great weekend and chow on!

6 Comments

Filed under food shopping, snacking, tips & tricks

Buy Me Some Peanut and Cracker Jacks

Hot dogs, burgers, and garlic fries – these were the treats that lured me to stadium seats when I was younger. I longed for the glutinous, processed, and salty flavors of ballpark fare and as such, I happily accompanied my father to any game that was accompanied by ketchup and squirt bottle of nacho “cheese.”

My affair with these lip-smacking snacks, however, did not last forever. When my kidneys quit seven years ago, so did my fast-food addiction. But my love for a sports outing on a sunny (or recently, foggy) day? That remained strong.

It was easy for me to steer clear of tacos with bells and jacks in boxes, but eating at a game became a bit of a low sodium conundrum. If you are on a low sodium diet, how do you go out to a ballgame and how do you join the crowd?

Well first, forget about buying some peanuts and cracker jacks, and bring yourself some low sodium snacks. Trust me, you’ll never want to go back.

Case and point, the preseason 49ers game.

As we knew a meal of beer and lemonade would leave me hungry, and would result in a seriously lackluster fan, the crew and I decided to get to the parking lot a few hours earlier and tailgate – a great solution to staying full at the stadium when on a low sodium diet.

I found out what the other folks would be eating – chicken wings – and made a salt-free version for myself. I also brought a bean dip for everyone to enjoy (and to give my taste buds some diversity). And to top it all off, we devoured a bag of fresh cherries. Everyone left happy.

But let’s say you don’t have time for or interest in setting up shop behind the hood of your car; what do you do then? Don’t be afraid to pack a snack pack. Sandwiches, with low sodium bread and low sodium roast beef, are great. But don’t just settle for simple. You can bring anything that fits into a plastic container and in your purse or man bag. I’ve brought more complicated dishes like pasta, hummus, home-made sushi, and of course, more wangs!

The beauty of bringing your own low sodium food to a sports game is that you aren’t beholden to the slim offerings. You can bring whatever floats your fancy and will keep you cheering through the fourth quarter, or that shoot-out, or that nail-biting 12th inning.

So root, root, root for a snack pack. If you don’t eat it’s a shame. It’s just one, two, three bites and you’re full at the old ballgame.

Chow on.

1 Comment

Filed under good living, snacking, tips & tricks