Cutting back on the salt …

It appears I have been fairly inactive on the blog for a while (and in every single other way too, let’s face it). Let’s just say Easter went for a little too long. So, my healthy cooking has fallen by the wayside a little, and I have been pretty careless about my sugar and salt consumption. Alas, I am not perfect! 🙂 Today’s post is about salt (sodium chloride).

There is a lot of confusion and misperception about salt in the diet. Most people think that because they don’t add salt to their cooking then they don’t have to worry about it – wrong! Salt is hidden in all sorts of things, and it’s pretty scary considering that Australian’s salt consumption is way above the recommended level of 2300mg a day (which equates to just over one teaspoon).

Sodium is a mineral that is important in our body, it is a major part of electrolyte balance, working with potassium and chlorine to maintain an acid-base balance and control osmotic pressure. So yes, it is necessary to have a little sodium in our diet. But guess what? Sodium is naturally occurring in a lot of whole foods including fruits and vegetables, so you don’t have to go adding it on to to your hot chips thinking that you are contributing to your recommended daily intake! The major concern with having too much salt in our diet is the risk of increased blood pressure.

The real problem with salt consumption arises in processed foods. If your diet is high in ready-made, processed foods rather than whole foods, you might want to have a think about sodium. Salt is used as a flavour enhancer and preservative, appearing in just about everything we pick off the supermarket shelf: breads, tinned soups, tinned vegetables and legumes, pasta sauce and condiments, ready-made frozen meals and items such as packet noodle cups. Have a look at the sodium column in the nutrition panel on a processed food product in the pantry (per serve column). Keep in mind that the AGHE recommends a maximum of 2300g per day!

It’s not all bad news though; you can still have delicious tasting food minus the high salt content. My recipe for lentil and zucchini fritters, for example! By using lots of fresh herbs, onion and pepper, you don’t need to add any salt because there is already enough flavour. Salt substitutions can also include lemon juice, chilli, garlic, vinegar and spices. Another important note: a lot of people are under the impression that because it is sea salt, rock salt, pink Murray river salt, salt sourced all the way from the Dead Sea etc. that it is good for you because it has a higher mineral content. Yes, it has a higher mineral content, but it is still salt and still behaves exactly the same way in your body!

Time for food.

green herbs

Zucchini and Lentil Fritters with Fresh Herbs

Makes 6 fritters

1 x zucchini, grated

1 x cup canned or cooked lentils, (no added salt)

½ x onion, finely chopped

½ x cup self raising wholemeal flour

2 x eggs

1/4 x cup fresh dill, chopped

¼ x cup fresh coriander, chopped

Pepper, to taste

Place the grated zucchini, lentils, flour, herbs, pepper and eggs in a big bowl and stir well to combine.

frittermix

Heat up a large saucepan on a medium heat. Use a non-stick pan or a light spray of cooking oil so the fritters don’t stick.

Now get your hands dirty! Form the mixture into patties, and place gently into the hot pan.

Cook each one for about 3 minutes on each side, they should be golden brown. Use a spatula to gently flip over.

fritters

You can serve these fritters with a side salad or have them on their own as a snack. I served mine of a bed of sautéed kale with a bit of lemon juice. Yum! And no added salt 🙂

Zucchini Ribbon Spring Salad

We have had some beautiful days in Melbourne so far this Spring. And I’ve been lucky enough to just come back from a weekend in far north Queensland. The anticipation of summer is increasing!

This is the ultimate cool down salad for those days when it’s too hot to eat anything heavy. The zucchini is full of water for a start, a good thing for hydration levels (we get fluids from foods too, not just when we drink water) – and lots of mint to keep it really fresh. Mint contains menthol, which is what gives it that cooling sensation. Use the other half of the bunch to make fresh mint tea, or add it to a jug of cold water with some lemon slices. (This salad would be equally good with cucumber too.)

Tastes best when eaten in the sunshine!

zuc sal1

Zucchini Ribbon Spring Salad

 

2 x zucchini, cut into ribbons

1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely shredded

2 spring onions, chopped

100g feta cheese, diced

1 x tin chickpeas, drained

1/2 x cup dried freekeh

1 x TBS olive oil

1 x TBS lemon juice

S & P

Place freekeh in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then drain

While the freekeh is cooking, prepare the rest of the veggies

Throw everything into a bowl and toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper

Easy peasy

zuc sal