Nov 7, 2011

On Salt

You may have noticed that I seldom mention salt in my recipes. There are several reasons for that.

  1. I figure that anyone reading my recipes is going to be smart enough to season their food to their own taste.
  2. Except in certain instances salt isn't required and can be added at the table if needed.
  3. I restrict my salt intake (heart attack ... remember) so the amounts that I add to one part of the meal may depend on the amount of salt already in other parts.

Vegetarian bouillon, for example, is extremely salty. Even 1 cube of a low-sodium varieties will constitute a major percentage of my daily intake. The recommendation for someone my age is 1500 mg/day. (If I were younger it would be about 2400 mg/day. Most people eat 3400 mg/day or more.) If I use Better Than Bouillon Low-sodium Vegetable Base it is 500 mg or 1/3 of my daily allowance. If I use a standard Knorr's Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon cube it runs 840 mg or more than half of what I should have and that means  I can't have any miso soup that day. There's a Swiss company, Rapunzel, that makes a "No Salt Added" vegetarian bouillon that has just 130 mg. I've ordered some.

It's really amazing what you find when you start reading labels. Almost anything that is ready-made is loaded with salt. Salad dressings, canned soups, pasta sauces, even some canned chickpeas are all laden with the stuff.

Restaurants can be really tricky. Good ones will post their nutritional values online, but you'd think that having posted them they'd look at them and say, "wait a minute ... there's something out of whack." One of my favorite restaurants has some items on their menu that contain more than 2700 mg, almost twice my daily allowance and more than the recommended amount for a healthy young person.

But let's fill out the meal. That nice complementary Foccacia bread with the oil and Parmesan dipping sauce runs about 700mg.  Their big glasses hold 16 oz of soda (70 mg). A lettuce based salad (20 mg) with toppings (395 mg) dressing (usually around 300 mg) and a slice of Key lime pie (536 mg) for dessert will round up the meal. So for that one meal you have consumed 4721 mg of sodium!

Okay, I'm not going to rant about this any more. People love salt and they have to make their own decisions (until their bodies start making decisions for them). I'm not the salt police. So add as much or as little as you want.

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