It was with a bit of trepidation and a lot of trust that our October coaching candidate, Susan, followed some counter-intuitive coaching recommendations for limiting her sodium intake.
After our call, here were my recommendations to Susan:
- Instead of feeling guilty about your sodium intake, enjoy the process of salting your food. First: don''t leave salt out of your recipes, and second: buy a little salt cellar for the table so that salting is a fun thing. Do it, take pleasure in it; don't feel guilty. Your body needs salt, so be mindful, but not guilty.
- Use larger-crystal kosher salt. This is real salt, it just has a larger crystal. Teaspoon for teaspoon, this has less sodium than a fine salt which has a smaller crystal. Plus, it takes longer to dissolve into your food, so you "taste" it more.
- Put cut lemons and limes on the table. If you like to "pop" the flavors in your food with salt, chances are you'll enjoy perking up your meal with some acid. You know how the Brits love malt vinegar with their fries? Same philosophy. So increase of reaching for the salt, try a lemon squeeze!
Here's what happenned:
Susan bought her daughter Sarah a salt cellar and put kosher salt in it. It's pink and she loves it. Plus, Sarah is really taking to the lemons and limes on her food. "I've been pleasantly surprised," said Susan. "Now I find myself saying "Ok, enough with the lemon and lime, you're overdoing it!"
When Susan invited her salt-loving dad to dinner, there were no salt shakers on the table, but she did provide small bowls with kosher salt for pinching. By parting with the old habit of shakers, she was able to encourage a new approach to salt.
Ironically, Susan's husband found the kosher salt *too* salty, and wished that he had put less on his food the first night he tried it. The lower-sodium salt was too salty? Terrific! I'll take that as a win!
Susan prepared a chicken and caper dish (pictured below), and for the first time, used the amount of salt that was called for in the recipe. Susan and her family also measured the salt they added to their meal that night first night (without holding back), and found that she used about 1/8 of a teaspoon of kosher salt. Which is 12% of the recommended daily allowance of salt. Which is absolutely fine.
When Susan invited her parents and sister over for a Quick Pastitsio, her Dad was worried about trying it. He was nervous that this no-salt thing would have removed all the salt, and joy, from the meal and the table. Susan reassured him that there was salt in the dish, and though she was not using salt shakers, there would be salt on the table as well.
"When it came time to dish it out onto plates, my Dad told me to just give him a small amount because he wasn't sure he was going to like it." said Susan. "A few minutes later, his plate was clean and he asked me for a second helping. When it was time to go home, I offered him leftovers and he seemed very happy to have them."
"I used the recommended salt in the recipe (1/4 tsp) and salted my food only once with the kosher salt and that's all I needed," said Susan. "Sarah squeezed her lemons and limes all over all of her food and also into her water. She is loving having the lemons/limes on the table.
This week's goal: Susan will start cooking with fresh herbs. She's going to make a basil pesto, herb chimichurri, and chicken with rosemary. Basil and dried oregano are the only herbs Susan has used to date, so we're hoping that by adding vivid flavor to her food, she'll be reaching for that salt cellar even less.
Stay tuned, and please share your ideas for eating less salt!