published Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Conrol salt in your diet for better health

I love salt, and salt hates me. Give me a potato chip, and I want the whole bag. Put Chex Mix in front of me, and I can munch on it all day. But I’ve learned my lesson about my favorite salty treats.

Consuming too much salt is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies. It makes us retain water and without a doubt raises our blood pressure. I’ve seen my pressure go up so high that my doctor has threatened me with meds to control it.

That’s when I stopped eating so much salt. And wonder of wonders, my blood pressure stabilized.

Not all salt hazards are obvious. Recently, Cooking Light sent out an email telling people to be careful of ordering things as tame as chicken tenders when dining out. Their sodium content is huge.

The most recent edition of the Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines recommends that Americans limit their daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams daily. That adds up to a mere teaspoon for most people. And even less for people 51 and older (that’s me).

Given the high obesity epidemic and its subsequent health problems, these guidelines leave little doubt that we all consume way too much salt. Instead of saying “pass the salt,” it’s time to pass on salt and see how much better you’ll feel.

So what can you do to satisfy the craving for flavor that salt adds to many dishes? Lemon, garlic powder, onion powder and celery seed are all good herbs that can take salt’s place. But here’s a salt-free mix that I’ve found to be quite satisfying. This is a recipe I found at ehow.com, and what a difference it’s made for my palate. I hope it does for yours.

Salt-Free Mix

2 tablespoons garlic powder

11⁄3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried savory

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1⁄2 teaspoon celery seed

1⁄4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary

1⁄2 teaspoon unsweetened lemonade drink mix

1⁄2 cup crushed dried minced onion flakes

22⁄3 tablespoons crushed dried vegetable flakes

2 tablespoons dried orange peel

Combine in a blender or food processor the garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, basil, marjoram, mustard, oregano, savory, thyme, cayenne, cumin, coriander, celery seed, rosemary and lemonade mix.

Cover and pulse five or six times to mix the spices. Leave the lid on until the dust cloud settles, to avoid eye and nose irritation.

Next, add onion flakes, vegetable flakes and orange peel. These larger pieces of spice are added last so they will retain their shape and add texture in the blend.

Replace the lid and pulse quickly two more times. Wait for the dust to settle again, and then remove the lid and take a sample taste. Add more of any ingredient you are not tasting in the final mix, to balance out your customized salt substitute.

Store your salt-substitute blend in a sealed glass jar, and set the jar in a cool, dark place. Fill a small shaker with your blend and put it on the dinner table, right next to the pepper shaker, to encourage everyday use.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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June 1, 2011 at 1:24 a.m.
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