Okay, don’t panic.
I know that you come to this blog to see pretty pictures of food and to find mind-blowing low sodium recipes. And today, you open your inbox to find a picture of a black dress.
“What is this about?” you say, furiously slamming your cold coffee on the table.
Well, I can promise you that I haven’t totally lost my culinary mind and I do not plan on giving you a recipe for stewed cocktail dress. Nor will this blog transform into a barbie-doll site about fashion, or the fashion I wear while enjoying low sodium food. I mean, let’s be honest, this dress looks a bit tight and I require elastic-waisted pants when I eat.
But this post does indeed involve a dress. A little black dress, in fact, that I believe sums up my thoughts on low sodium cooking and the joy you can find from the challenges of a dietary restriction.
You see, this past week I was honored with a profile in Arthritis Today magazine that featured my story, my blog (the one you are reading right now), and some of my favorite, mind-blowing, low sodium recipes. Which means that suddenly, loyal Sodium Girl fans are being joined by handfuls of brand new converts. And just as much as I love defying the odds of low sodium cooking, I am equally infatuated with making people feel welcome and at home. So to all the newbies, I say, welcome! And make yourself feel at home.
Now, a quick introduction to the site: Blog, meet new readers. New readers, meet blog.
Other than this particular post, you’ll find that, three times a week, Sodium Girl is filled with recipes, tips, and restaurant reviews that make living on a low sodium diet easy and enjoyable. As the writer, adventurer, and overall merry-maker in charge of this blog, I am determined to make sure that dietary restrictions do not keep anyone from enjoying anything – whether it is eating pickles or traveling abroad – and that instead, they open up more kitchen doors and enable people to explore places and foods that they may have never otherwise tried.
So with that, let me present to you one of my earliest posts on The Little Black Dress Theory. I hope you enjoy my follies, shenanigans, and successes and feel free to write with comments, questions, and tales of your own. You never know when they may end up on the front page.
Later this week, we will be back to the stove with some low sodium cooking and a recipe for pantaloon pot stickers. Just kidding. I’ll leave fashion to the fashionistas.
Eat well and as always, chow on.
The Black Dress Theory
Let’s face it, food tastes good with salt. French fries, pasta water, even chocolate – salt is everywhere and is the universally adored flavor enhancer. We are so accustomed to eating meals laden with the shimmering crystals that, to cook or eat a dish without them seems like an impossible feat (or at least impossibly boring).
When people find out that I cannot have salt, they often react with horror and remark that, if they had to do such a thing, they “would commit hara-kiri.” But this morning, I thought of an analogy that illuminates the ultimately positive reality of eating low sodium. Although it takes some getting used to, not relying on salt has helped me discover other ways to heighten the delicious factor in my food. Eating low sodium does not mean eating without flavor. Sweet butter (when browned) can add nutty, earthy and delicious notes to your food. Vinegars, which are mostly sodium free and can help lower your blood pressure, come in many varieties – apple cider, rice wine, balsamic to name a few – and lend a tang and a zip to meats, greens, and even ice cream when reduced to a sauce. And don’t forget about spices – no one said you can’t have spices, you just have to look for the brands that are salt free. Cayenne, cumin, curry, star anise, coriander, fennel seed, mustard, white pepper, wasabi – holy moly, there is no shortage of options here. And then there’s wine reductions and beer baths, honey and molasses, citrus and fresh herbs. Choices abound, your meals will never fall flat.
So here is a small tale to help highlight the silver lining of low sodium living. And bare with me, this gets girly:
Limiting your sodium intake is like someone telling you that you cannot wear black anymore. Ok, at first, that seems like it would be difficult. People love wearing black. It’s slimming, it’s bad-ass, it’s professional, it’s easy. We all have the little black dress or the killer, I’m-going-to nail-this-meeting black suit. So at first, having to clear the closet of all your go-to black items feels like a bad, practical joke. And having to re-fill it with other things (what could those even be?) and re-style your wardrobe (what will I wear!) seems like an expensive and ultimately time-consuming venture.
Then, a moment of brilliance. You realize, a nice, navy dress doesn’t look half bad and is just as snappy for business meetings. And actually, that metallic gold number you’ve had your eye on forever, but didn’t think you had the guts to pull off, is actually way more bad-ass than that cliché (and face it, fading) black dress.
The point is, in having to limit your choices, you begin to discover new worlds, new combinations, new possibilities that you would have never otherwise explored. And when that black-tie event rolls around, and you can’t put on the standard black outfit, you’ll just have to settle for the fuschia pink pantsuit. And honestly, standing out never is a bad thing.