Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sodium and a nice new garden...

I've slowly been working my way through figuring out how much sodium is in things. Wow. This has not been easy for me, and there have been some big surprises. White bread (and related products like bagels) have a surprisingly large amount of sodium. You would think potato chips have a lot of sodium right? Well they do. But a one ounce serving of pretzels has DOUBLE the sodium of a one ounce serving of potato chips! (And who eats an ounce of either? I try, but fail!) I thought I knew a decent amount about food, but some of these numbers are really astonishing to me. Sodium has always just whizzed by under my radar.

It's really interesting too that I had the first of the severe vertigo attacks a few months after having my son when I had no energy to fix food. We were living on cold cuts, sausages, snack food and take-out salads & rotisserie chicken. Crazy huge amounts of sodium. But since I've always had low blood pressure, I never worried one whit about it until now.

A few of the basic changes I'm contemplating. I need to do this a little at a time and really make it STICK.
1. Far less bread. White bread is worse, but even the whole wheat bread packs a pretty major sodium punch. I should probably just get in the habit of cutting it out completely.
2. I need to switch my snacking to nuts and fruit, rather than salty snacks. One serving of something salty isn't bad, but I tend to overeat salty things and 2-3 servings can pack in a LOT of sodium.
3. Beans will now be prepared from dry, rather than canned. It's not too hard to do, I'm often just lazy about it. That needs to change. Especially in the summertime when we eat a lot of bean salads with our BBQ.
4. Meats... I'm going to need some help from my husband on this one, but I think I may be able to really cut back the sodium in the meats I eat. First, I found some well reviewed salt-free sausage seasoning mixes, and I'm going to use some ground meat to make a bulk sausage substitute for breakfasts & pasta sauces. Hmmm... I wonder if I can call my local meat market and have them grind me some good pork? They're usually super accomidating. Secondly, my husband just got a wonderful new smoker and he's been doing a lot of grilling. If I can work with him on a salt-free or low salt rub, then he can smoke me some meats and I can slice it up to make my own cold cuts, rather than the ultra processed ones from the market.

Things that will not change: Cheese. I'm sorry, but I just can't do it. I'd rather just eat a small amount of good cheese every day than give up cheese or search out low sodium varieties. Cheese is awesome.

In much, much happier news... a friend of mine wants me to help her start a food garden! She has a self-professed "brown thumb," but her 3 year old daughter has been asking about planting some vegetables. She was admiring our raised beds this weekend, and I offered to help her start a small garden that she could actually manage. I need to sit down with her and talk prices, but I'm thinking either self watering planters, or tapping a drip system into her existing lawn irrigation. Then we were talking about planting at least carrots & zucchini (both family favorites) as well as maybe some cherry tomatoes. Her daughter won't eat tomatoes, but mama loves them and we both think the little one might be more interested in trying ones from her own personal garden. I'm super excited to help them get started!

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